L-Carnitine supplementation protects against liver cancer in an animal study

April 06, 2009

Long term supplementation with the amino acid L-Carnitine protected rats from cancer of the liver. For 8 weeks the researchers supplemented 20 rats with L-Carnitine, and 20 rats with synthetic D-Carnitine and the drug mildronate to cause a Carnitine deficiency. After two weeks of supplementation, ten rats in each group plus 10 non-supplemented rats received an injection of the dangerous cancer causing chemical diethylnitrosamine (DENA) followed two weeks later by a dose of toxic carbon tetrachloride. Ten un-supplemented control rats were injected with normal saline. At the end of the treatment period, increased liver enzymes, liver degeneration, and precancerous liver lesions were observed among the DENA-treated but un-supplemented and L-Carnitine deficient rats. These changes were prevented in DENA-treated animals that were supplemented with L-Carnitine. While DENA administration resulted in increased oxidative stress and a reduction in glutathione and antioxidant enzymes in the livers of un-supplemented and L-Carnitine-deficient mice, the effect was modified by L-Carnitine. L-Carnitine may be able to decrease liver toxicity caused by a variety of highly toxic chemicals. The study is published in the March 21, 2009 issue of the World Journal of Gastroenterology.