Posted 3/16/07CLICK TO PRINT

NAME: Acetylcarnitine

Also called: Acetyl-l-carnitine, ALC, L-Acetyl-Carnitine, ALCAR

DESCRIPTION: Acetylcarnitine is a form of carnitine.

Carnitine (also known as L-carnitine and the intravenously-administered levocarnitine) is an amino acid derivative (specifically, a quaternary ammonium compound) synthesized from lysine and methionine. It is found in nearly all cells of the body. Produced in the liver and kidneys, it is stored in the skeletal muscles, heart, brain, and sperm.

Carnitine is involved in transferring fatty acids across mitochondrial membranes.

The acetyl component of acetylcarnitine provides for the formation of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine; acetylcholine deficits in certain brain regions are thought to be associated with age-related dementias, including Alzheimer's disease.

Acetylcarnitine is the preferred form for carnitine supplementation because it is thought to be better absorbed from the small intestine than L-carnitine and more efficiently crosses the blood-brain barrier.

FUNCTION: Acetylcarnitine may have a triglyceride-lowering effect in some, as well as help to elevate HDL-cholesterol levels. It may have cardioprotective activity in addition to beneficially affecting cardiac function. It may also have antioxidant and neuroprotective properties.

Carnitine is normally found in high levels in the muscles and is used to transport long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria where they are burned to provide energy.

There has been a great deal of recent attention to carnitine because of researchers’ beliefs that it may help to counter mitochondrial toxicity and all the problems which that can cause, including neuropathy, myopathy, bone marrow suppression (and resulting decreases in red and white blood cells and platelets), pancreatitis, fatty liver, lactic acidosis, and fat loss (lipoatrophy).

Read more about mitochondrial stress on our Antioxidants and HIV Fact Sheet.

Acetylcarnitine has been used as a “smart drug” to enhance memory and other cognitive functions.

SOURCES: The richest dietary sources of carnitine are: red meats, with lesser amounts found in fish, poultry, and milk products. Small amounts are also found in wheat and avocados.
DOSAGE: Some PWHIV are using 500 mg per day in an attempt to offset cellular mitochondrial damage caused by nukes like AZT. Other PWHIV take larger doses (1–2 grams per day) in an attempt to modulate a dysfunctional immune response.
DATA: Several reports indicate that systemic carnitine deficiency could occur in AIDS, and that primary and secondary carnitine deficiency leads to critical metabolic dysfunction. In a 1993 Italian study of 28 PWHIV, 6 grams of carnitine was administered for just two weeks. Immune responsiveness was greatly enhanced as well as significant reductions in beta-2 microglobulin, a disease progression marker.

Most importantly, tumor necrosis factor levels were normalized in the two study participants who had abnormally high levels, while triglycerides levels were reduced on average approximately 35% (triglyceride levels are a secondary marker for high inflammatory immune messenger [cytokine] levels in the body like TNF and others).

Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) is a cytokine (a protein produced by white blood cells that acts as a chemical messenger between cells that affects various immune cells' activity) produced by large immune cells (macrophages), which helps activate T cells. It may also stimulate HIV activity. TNF levels are very high in persons with HIV, and the molecule is suspected to play a part in HIV-related wasting, neuropathy, and dementia. TNF triggers a biochemical pathway that leads to the programmed form of cell suicide known as apoptosis. It also activates a key molecule that can block this very pathway, and so set up a delicate life-death balance within the cell.
SUPPLEMENT Vol.1 Issue 2: "Chemical Cousins Get Serious Research Attention, Periheral Neuropathy Sufferers Benefit! L-Carnitine & Acetylcarnitine Surprise Scientists"

National Institutes of Health / Office of Dietary Supplements' entry on carnitine.

Acetylcarnitine (NYBC) Each bottle, 100 capsules. Each capsule, 500 mg of N-acetyl-L-carnitine, a form of the amino acid derivative, carnitine.
PRODUCT NOTES: Acetylcarnitine supplements should be kept refrigerated.

Over-the-counter L-carnitine is expensive but there is a pharmaceutical (prescribed) form of L-carnitine which medical insurance plans (including state-run Medicaids) will pay for, so you should get your doctor to write a prescription for the following: Carnitor Tablets, Sigma Tau, 330 mg, 3 tablets, 3 times per day.