DURHAM, N.C. Supplementing obese rats with the nutrient carnitine helps the animals to clear the extra sugar in their blood, something they had trouble doing on their own, researchers at Duke University Medical Center report.
A team led by Deborah Muoio (Moo-ee-oo), Ph.D., of the Duke Sarah W. Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center, also performed tests on human muscle cells that showed supplementing with carnitine might help older people with prediabetes, diabetes, and other disorders that make glucose (sugar) metabolism difficult.
Carnitine is made in the liver and recycled by the kidney, but in some cases when this is insufficient, dietary carnitine from red meat and other animal foods can compensate for the shortfall.
After just eight weeks of supplementation with carnitine, the obese rats restored their cells' fuel- burning capacity (which was shut down by a lack of natural carnitine) and improved their glucose tolerance, a health outcome that indicates a lower risk of diabetes.
These results offer hope for a new therapeutic option for people with glucose intolerance, older people, people with kidney disease, and those with type 2 diabetes (what used to be called adult-onset diabetes).
Muoio said that soon her team of researchers will begin a small clinical trial of carnitine supplementation in people who fit the profile of those who might benefit from additional carnitine older people (60 to 80 years) with glucose intolerance.
The study is published in the Aug. 21 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.
The Duke researchers began studying carnitine more closely when abnormalities in the nutrient emerged from blood chemistry profiles of obese and old animals. These chemical profiles report on hundreds of byproducts of cell metabolism called metabolites and give scientists an opportunity to identify markers of disease states.
Carnitine is a natural compound known f
|Contact: Mary Jane Gore|
Duke University Medical Center