10 September 1998
It has been reported that cumulative carnitine losses through dialysis membranes may worsen hyperlipidemia during long-term hemodialysis. However, carnitine supplementation has not shown a consistent beneficial response. We undertook the present study to determine if there is any hypolipidemic effect of L-carnitine on Greek dialysis patients in concert with the dialysate buffer composition (acetate or bicarbonate). A total of 28 patients (16 male, 12 female), mean age 43 years (range 21–61), with end-stage renal disease on maintenance hemodialysis for a mean period of 25 months (range 7–84) were studied. The dialysis schedule was 4 h, 3 times/week using cuprophane hollow-fiber dialyzers and acetate (n = 14) or bicarbonate (n = 14) dialysate. In all patients L-carnitine (5 mg/kg body weight) was infused intravenously 3 times/week at the end of each hemodialysis session. Blood samples for carnitine and lipid determinations were obtained before treatment, and 3 and 6 months following treatment. Even though L-carnitine did not modify most of the serum lipid levels, a significant decrease in serum triglycerides was evident in the whole group of patients (from 225 ± 76 to 201 ± 75 mg/dl, p = 0.03). Furthermore, L-carnitine could decrease serum triglycerides only in hypertriglyceridemic patients (from 260 ± 64 to 226 ± 82 mg/dl, p < 0.05). L-Carnitine resulted in a reduction of serum triglycerides in both patients on bicarbonate and on acetate dialysis, while there were no significant differences in the changes of lipid parameters after L-carnitine between the two groups of hemodialysis patients. We conclude that relatively low doses of L-carnitine supplementation could contribute to the management of some hypertriglyceridemic hemodialysis patients.