Ameliorating effects of carnitine and its precursors on alcohol-induced fatty liver.


Sachan DS, Rhew TH, Ruark RA




Am J Clin Nutr


The lipid-lowering effect of carnitine and its precursors, namely lysine plus methionine, was examined in male Sprague-Dawley rats fed ethanol as 36% of the total calories. Ethanol caused typical hepatic steatosis characterized by significant accumulation of total lipids, triglycerides, cholesterols, phospholipids, and free fatty acids. Supplementation of the ethanol diet with 1% DL-carnitine, 0.5% L- lysine, and 0.2% L-methionine significantly lowered ethanol-induced increases of various lipid fractions, with the exception of free fatty acids. The lipid-lowering effect of carnitine was superior to that of its precursors and their effect together was no greater than that of carnitine alone. The triglyceride contents of liver and plasma were related inversely to the levels of carnitine and acyl carnitines. It is concluded that dietary carnitine more effectively than its precursors prevented alcohol-induced hyperlipemia and accumulation of fat in livers. Thus, a deficiency of functional carnitine may indeed exist in chronic alcoholic cases.