Carnitine supplementation improves myocardial function in hearts from ischemic diabetic and euglycemic rats

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Nonischemic myocardial dysfunction in patients with diabetes mellitus appears to be attenuated with long-term l-carnitine therapy. The effect of acute l-carnitine supplementation on rat hearts from euglycemic and diabetic animals subjected to ischemia and reperfusion is investigated in this study.


Study rats had diabetes mellitus induced by streptozocin (65 mg/kg intraperitoneally), and control rats had injection of saline solution (n = 12 per group). About 1 month later, the hearts were suspended on a Langendorff apparatus and perfused with either standard buffered Krebs-Henseleit solution or this standard solution supplemented with l-carnitine (5 mmol/L). After stabilization, normothermic, zero-flow ischemia was instituted for 20 minutes followed by 60 minutes of reperfusion. There were four study groups (n = 6 per group): hearts that were from euglycemic rats and that were perfused with standard buffered Krebs-Henseleit solution (E-STD); hearts that were from diabetic animals and that were perfused with the same standard buffered solution (DM-STD); hearts taken from diabetic animals and perfused with l-carnitine–enriched solution (DM-CAR); and hearts taken from euglycemic rats and perfused with the enriched solution (E-CAR).


At 60 minutes of reperfusion, left ventricular developed pressure was significantly better in hearts from both groups (diabetic and euglycemic) with carnitine supplementation (DM-CAR versus DM-STD and E-CAR versus E-STD, p < 0.01 for both, by analysis of variance). Left ventricular end-diastolic pressure was significantly lower in the DM-CAR group compared with all other groups (p < 0.01 by analysis of variance).


These findings suggest that acute l-carnitine supplementation significantly improves the recovery of the ischemic myocardium in diabetic and euglycemic rats.

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