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Metab Brain Dis. 2011 Dec;26(4):281-9. doi: 10.1007/s11011-011-9260-z. Epub 2011 Aug 26.

Acetyl-L-carnitine improves cognitive functions in severe hepatic encephalopathy: a randomized and controlled clinical trial.

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Research Center "The Great Senescence", University of Catania, Ospedale Cannizzaro, Catania, Italy.


The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of ALC treatment on cognitive functions in patients with severe hepatic encephalopathy. This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. 61 patients with severe hepatic encephalopathy were recruited to the study. The 2 groups received either 2 g ALC twice a day (n = 30) or placebo (n = 30) for 90 days. Clinical and laboratory assessment, psychometric tests and automated electroencephalogram (EEG) analysis were performed for all patients. At the end of the study period, between the 2 groups we observed a significant difference in Everyday Memory Questionnaire -23.9 vs 4.4 (p < 0.001), Logical Memory (Paragraph recall) test 22.3 vs 0.7 (p < 0.001), Trail Making Test A -7.5 vs -2.6 (p < 0.001), Trail Making Test B -10.5 vs -3.1 (p < 0.001), Controlled Oral Word Association Test 4.2 vs 0.5 (p < 0.001), Hooper test 2.6 vs 0.1 (p < 0.05), Judgement of line orientation 2.8 vs 0.3 (p < 0.001), Digit Cancellation time -24.5 vs -2.4 (p < 0.001), NH₄⁺ 30.5 vs 13.5 (p < 0.001), prothrombin time 2 vs 2.4 (p < 0.05), alanine transaminase -10.7 vs -13.6 (p < 0.001). 88% of patients treated with ALC vs 72% of patients treated with placebo showed a significant improvement in EEG. The improvement of cognitive deficits, the reduction of ammonia, and the modification of EEG in patients treated with ALC suggest that ALC could represent a new tool in the treatment of severe hepatic encephalopathy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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