The role of carnitine in the regulation of energy metabolism and modulation of the course of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus

Authors: O.O. Khaniukov, O.V. Smolianova

State Institution «Dnipropetrovsk Medical Academy of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine», Dnipro, Ukraine


Despite significant advances in prevention and treatment, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) continue to be a leader in terms of the prevalence and mortality among all diseases not only in Ukraine but also in most countries of the world. Given that comorbidity is inherent in CVD patients, it is very important to prescribe drugs whose mechanisms of action would be directed to the common links of pathogenesis of the most typical coexisting diseases in order to avoid polypharmacy. Such links are ischemia, impaired glucose and lipid metabolism. In addition, it should be noted that the last paradigm of the pharmacological industry is on the one hand the development of new drugs, and on the other hand — the introduction into clinical practice of existing drugs the effect of which would be directed at different links of CVD pathogenesis.

The purpose of this review was to substantiate the possibility of prescribing carnitine to patients with CVD and diabetes mellitus from the perspective of its biochemical and pathogenetic effects on the course of these diseases, as well as the available experimental data and results of clinical studies evaluating the effectiveness and safety of carnitine. In the first part of the review, considerable attention was paid to the available literature data on energy metabolism in the cardiac and skeletal muscles, as well as the experimentally proven role of carnitine in physiological conditions and in the presence of ischemia. The second part of the publication deals with the review of clinical studies on the effect of carnitine administration on the course of coronary heart disease with acute and chronic course, intermittent lameness, impaired glucose tolerance, dyslipidemia. The analyzed literature allows us to make a reasonable conclusion that carnitine has antianginal, anti-ischemic, antihypoxic, antioxidant and membrane-stabilizing effects, which enables to influence positively the clinical course of CVD. Therefore, given the numerous mechanisms of action of carnitine, its use in the comprehensive treatment of patients with various pathologies is consistent with the newest paradigm of the pharmacological industry.

Keywords: carnitine; regulation of energy exchange; regulation of metabolism; cardiovascular diseases; β-oxidation of fatty acids; glycolysis; myocardial ischemia; acute myocardial infarction; chronic ischemic heart disease; heart rhythm disorders; chronic heart failure; atherosclerotic lesions of the lower limb arteries

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