Carnitine supplementation improves metabolic flexibility and skeletal muscle acetylcarnitine formation in volunteers with impaired glucose tolerance: A randomised controlled trial.
EBioMedicine. 2019 Nov ;49:318-330. Epub 2019 Oct 31. PMID: 31676389
Yvonne Mh Bruls
BACKGROUND: Type 2 diabetes patients and individuals at risk of developing diabetes are characterized by metabolic inflexibility and disturbed glucose homeostasis. Low carnitine availability may contribute to metabolic inflexibility and impaired glucose tolerance. Here, we investigated whether carnitine supplementation improves metabolic flexibility and insulin sensitivity in impaired glucose tolerant (IGT) volunteers.
METHODS: Eleven IGT- volunteers followed a 36-day placebo- and L-carnitine treatment (2 g/day) in a randomised, placebo-controlled, double blind crossover design. A hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp (40 mU/m/min), combined with indirect calorimetry (ventilated hood) was performed to determine insulin sensitivity and metabolic flexibility. Furthermore, metabolic flexibility was assessed in response to a high-energy meal. Skeletal muscle acetylcarnitine concentrations were measured in vivo using long echo time proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (H-MRS, TE=500 ms) in the resting state (7:00AM and 5:00PM) and after a 30-min cycling exercise. Twelve normal glucose tolerant (NGT) volunteers were included without any intervention as control group.
RESULTS: Metabolic flexibility of IGT-subjects completely restored towards NGT control values upon carnitine supplementation, measured during a hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp and meal test. In muscle, carnitine supplementation enhanced the increase in resting acetylcarnitine concentrations over the day (delta 7:00 AM versus 5:00 PM) in IGT-subjects. Furthermore, carnitine supplementation increased post-exercise acetylcarnitine concentrations and reduced long-chain acylcarnitine species in IGT-subjects, suggesting the stimulation of a more complete fat oxidation in muscle. Whole-body insulin sensitivity was not affected.
CONCLUSION: Carnitine supplementation improves acetylcarnitine formation and rescues metabolic flexibility in IGT-subjects. Future research should investigate the potential of carnitine in prevention/treatment of type 2 diabetes.