Animal trials proof L-carnitine may protect central nervous system against free radical damage

Abstract: “The influence of L-carnitine supplementation on the antioxidative abilities of serum and the central nervous system of ethanol-induced rats” – Source: Metabolic Brain Disease, Dec 2010

Authors: A Augustyniak, E Skryzydlewska

[Note: L-carnitine is a compound essential for the metabolism of fatty acids. Its main function is to assist the transport and metabolism of fatty acids in the cells’ energy-generating mitochondria. Note also the recent groundbreaking report suggesting that administration of omega-3 fatty acids plus L-carnitine would improve ME/CFS symptoms by supporting efficient mitochondrial function.]

The brain is exceptionally susceptible to oxidative stress that may be caused by xenobiotics [compounds foreign to living organisms] such as ethanol [alcohol]. Alcohol metabolism is accompanied by enhanced free radical formation and a decrease in antioxidant abilities [ability to counteract the damage to cellular structures caused by unchecked free radical activity; compared to rust on a tin can.]

However, L-carnitine appears to have antioxidant properties and the ability to regulate ethanol metabolism.

The present study was designed to estimate the effect of L-carnitine on the antioxidant capacity of the rat brain and blood serum.

For 5 weeks during the study, L-carnitine was given to rats in the amount of 1.5 g per 1 liter of drinking water, and from the second week the rats were intragastrically treated with ethanol.

A significant decrease in the activity of antioxidant enzymes (Cu,Zn-SOD, GSH-Px, GSSG-R and CAT) and in the level of non-enzymatic antioxidants (vitamin C, E, A, GSH and GSH-t) as well as a significant increase in the level of GSSG in the brain and blood serum of ethanol intoxicated rats have been demonstrated.

It has also been shown that alcohol caused a significant increase in the level of lipid peroxidation products (lipid hydroperoxides, malondialdehyde and 4-hydroxynonenal) and an increase in dityrosine, as well as a decrease in tryptophan – markers of protein oxidative modifications.

The administration of L-carnitine to ethanol intoxicated rats partially normalized the activity of the examined enzymes and the level of the above non-enzymatic antioxidants.

Moreover, L-carnitine significantly protects lipids and proteins against oxidative modifications. In conclusion, it has been proved that L-carnitine protects rat brain and blood serum against oxidative stress formation and it is possible that this small molecular amine has a similar beneficial effect on the human CNS [central nervous system].

Source: Metabolic Brain Disease, Dec 2010;25(4)381-389.Augustyniak A, Skryzydlewska E. Department of Analytical Chemistry, Medical University of Bialystok, Bialystok, Poland

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