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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2008 Mar;23(3):991-7. Epub 2007 Nov 28.

Insulin action on glucose and protein metabolism during L-carnitine supplementation in maintenance haemodialysis patients.

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Department of Clinical Morphological Technological Sciences, Division of Internal Medicine, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy.



Impaired protein anabolism and insulin resistance are characteristic features of maintenance haemodialysis patients. We have used a randomised, matched-paired, double-blind, placebo-controlled experimental design to determine the capability of intravenous L-carnitine supplementation to modify insulin resistance and protein catabolism in non-diabetic patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) undergoing chronic haemodialysis treatment.


L-carnitine (20 mg x kg(-1)) (n = 9) or placebo (n = 10) were given intravenously at the end of seven consecutive dialysis sessions. Whole-body protein and glucose metabolism were assessed on interdialytic days by the L[1-(13)C]leucine and the [2,2-(2)H(2)]glucose kinetic models in the postabsorptive state and during euglicemic hyperinsulinemic clamp studies at baseline and at the end of the treatment period.


L-carnitine supplementation was associated with lower (P < 0.05) rates of leucine oxidation (-11 +/- 12%) and appearance from proteolysis (-6 +/- 2%) during the clamp studies than after placebo supplementation. The rates of glucose appearance in the postabsorptive state did not change significantly in the patients receiving L-carnitine treatment. Insulin-mediated glucose disappearance was improved by L-carnitine only in those patients (n = 5) (+18 +/- 3%, P < 0.05 vs placebo group, n = 5) with greater baseline insulin resistance, selected according to the median value of insulin sensitivity before treatment.


L-carnitine supplementation was associated with protein-sparing effects in maintenance haemodialysis patients during hyperinsulinemia.

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