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Musculoskeletal health worsened from carnitine supplementation and not impacted by a novel individualized treadmill training protocol.

INTRODUCTION: Chronic kidney disease (CKD) negatively affects musculoskeletal health, leading to reduced mobility and quality of life. In healthy populations, carnitine supplementation and aerobic exercise have been reported to improve musculoskeletal health. However, there are inconclusive results regarding their effectiveness and safety in CKD. We hypothesized that carnitine supplementation and individualized treadmill exercise would improve musculoskeletal health in CKD.

METHODS: We used a spontaneously progressive CKD rat model (Cy/+ rat) (n=11-12/gr): 1) Cy/+ (CKD-Ctrl), 2) CKD-carnitine (CKD-Carn), and 3) CKD-treadmill (CKD-TM). Carnitine (250mg/kg) was injected daily for 10-weeks. Rats in the treadmill group ran 4 days/week on a 5° incline for 10-weeks progressing from 30 min/day for week one to 40 min/day for week two to 50 min/day for the remaining eight weeks. At 32 weeks of age, we assessed overall cardiopulmonary fitness, muscle function, bone histology and architecture, and kidney function. Data was analyzed by one-way ANOVA with Tukey's multiple comparisons tests.

RESULTS: Moderate to severe CKD was confirmed by biochemistries for blood urea nitrogen (mean 43±5 mg/dl CKD-Ctrl), phosphorus (mean 8±1 mg/dl CKD-Ctrl), parathyroid hormone (PTH; mean 625±185 pg/ml CKD-Ctrl), and serum creatinine (mean 1.1±0.2 mg/ml CKD-Ctrl). Carnitine worsened phosphorous (mean 11±3 mg/dl CKD-Carn; p<0.0001), PTH (mean 1738±1233 pg/ml CKD-Carn; p<0.0001), creatinine (mean 1±0.3 mg/dl CKD-Carn; p<0.0001), cortical bone thickness (mean 0.5±0.1 mm CKD-Ctrl, 0.4±0.1 mm CKD-Carn; p<0.05). Treadmill running significantly improve maximal aerobic capacity when compared to CKD-Ctrl (mean 14±2 min CKD-TM, 10±2 min CKD-Ctrl; p<0.01).

CONCLUSION: Carnitine supplementation worsened CKD progression, mineral metabolism biochemistries and cortical porosity, and did not have an impact on physical function. Individualized treadmill running improved maximal aerobic capacity but did not have an impact on CKD progression or bone properties. Future studies should seek to better understand carnitine doses in conditions of compromised renal function to prevent toxicity which may result from elevated carnitine levels and to optimize exercise prescriptions for musculoskeletal health.

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