Tai Sakurabayashi a , Yoshiji Takaesu a , Susumu Haginoshita a , Tetsurou Takeda a , Ikuo Aoike a , Shigeru Miyazaki a , Yutaka Koda a , Yasuko Yuasa a , Shinji Sakai a , Masashi Suzuki a , Sachio Takahashi a , Yoshihei Hirasawa a , Takamichi Nakamura b
13 August 1999
The concentration of carnitine, which is essential to fatty acid metabolism, can decrease markedly in patients on long-term hemodialysis coincident with life-threatening cardiac damage. However, administration of L-carnitine improves the myocardial function of these patients. To evaluate the underlying events of this phenomenon, we used recently developed technology, <sup>123</sup>I-labeled β-methyl- p-iodophenyl-pentadecanoic acid (BMIPP) myocardial scintigraphy, as a test of myocardial fatty acid metabolism. Our results showed that the free carnitine concentration (19.2 ± 6.5 μmol/l) was lower in 11 chronically dialyzed patients than in 8 healthy controls (49.3 ± 7.7 μmol/l, p < 0.0001). Additionally the heart to mediastinal ratio (H/M) of BMIPP was higher for these patients than for the controls (1.91 ± 0.19 vs. 1.52 ± 0.24, p < 0.005), and the patients’ washout rate (WOR) of BMIPP was lower (17.2 ± 6.0 vs. 22.8 ± 4.2%, p < 0.05). After L-carnitine was administered orally to the patients at doses of 1 g/day for 1 month and 0.5 g/day for the following month, the concentration of free carnitine in their sera increased to 85.4 ± 27.0 μmol/l (p < 0.0001). Although the H/M ratio did not change (1.89 ± 0.20) with this treatment, their WOR increased to 21.9 ± 6.6% (p < 0.001), similar to that of controls. The left ventricular end-diastolic dimension and left ventricular fractional shortening remained unchanged, as shown by echocardiography. The results presented here denote that a carnitine deficiency in chronically hemodialyzed patients disrupts their myocardial fatty acid metabolism, which is improved by L-carnitine supplementation.