Advances in carnitine in chronic uremia

Gianfranco Guarnieri, Gianni Biolo, Pierandrea Vinci, Benedetta Massolino, Rocco Barazzoni
Journal of Renal Nutrition 2007, 17 (1): 23-9
Carnitine is a conditionally essential metabolite that plays a critical role in cell physiology. Carnitine is necessary for fatty acid transport to sites of beta-oxidation in the mitochondria, where it helps to prevent organic acid accumulation. Because of these key regulatory functions, carnitine represents a crucial determinant of mitochondrial energy metabolism, whose deficiency may lead to metabolic and clinical disturbances. Loss of carnitine through dialytic membranes occurs in maintenance hemodialysis, resulting in potential carnitine depletion and relative increments of esterified carnitine forms. Carnitine supplementation has been shown to counteract such alterations and may be associated with clinical benefit. In particular, carnitine supplementation in patients on hemodialysis may enhance response to erythropoietin, resulting in improved hematologic status. Carnitine was also reported to improve exercise tolerance and intradialytic symptoms. Carnitine supplementation may enhance insulin resistance, inflammatory and antioxidant status, protein balance, lipid profile, and cardiac function. Carnitine administration can be useful for selected patients on dialysis who do not adequately respond to standard therapy.

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