ALC/ALA Beneficial Effect On Diabetes

Here are a few excerpts from clinical trials examining the healing effects of both ALC and ALA on neuropathy:

ALPHA LIPOIC ACID (intravenous high dose)
Antioxidant Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) Significantly Improves Symptoms of Diabetic Neuropathy
Mayo Clinic in Rochester Monday, April 07, 2003

A collaborative study between Mayo Clinic and a medical center in Russia found that alpha lipoic acid (ALA) significantly and rapidly reduces the frequency and severity of symptoms of the most common kind of diabetic neuropathy. "There appears to be a rather large effect on the pain of diabetic neuropathy with ALA," says Peter Dyck, M.D., Mayo Clinic neurologist and peripheral nerve specialist. "The magnitude of the change is considerable. We also found some improvement in neurologic signs and nerve conduction. We were surprised by the magnitude and the rapidity of the response." ALA produced no unfavorable side effects in the patients taking this substance. "It's very safe," says Dr. Dyck. "There have been no known complications."

The findings appear in the March 2003 issue of Diabetes Care,

ACETYL-L-CARNITINE (dose: 3 grams daily)
Efficacy of acetyl-l-carnitine for antiretroviral toxic neuropathy
Leighton Davies MD

The results of a recently published trial by Andrew Hart and colleagues from Blond McIndoe Centre, Manchester, and the Royal Free Hospital in London, provide confirmatory evidence for the use of acetyl-l-carnitine as a pathogenesis-based treatment for antiretroviral-associated toxic neuropathy (ATN). Acetyl L-Carnitine (LAC), which is crucial for normal mitochondrial function, is also thought to potentiate nerve growth factor actions, promote peripheral nerve regeneration and is thought to be generally neuroprotective, based on animal studies of diabetic neuropathy. ..33-month data on the efficacy of LAC (the British abbreviation for acetyl-l-carnitine) at 1500mg twice daily in a cohort of 21 HIV- positive individuals with established stable dysaesthetic neuropathic symptoms (of grade 2-4 severity).
...There was a statistically significant increase in neuronal regeneration during the course of LAC treatment.

ACETYL-L-CARNITINE (dose: 3 grams daily)
from January 2005 issue of Diabetes Care

An analysis of the studies shows that a 1,000 milligrams three times a day of acetyl-L-carnitine was effective in relieving pain caused by nerve damage associated with the condition. ....Diabetic neuropathy is a common long-term complication of diabetes and results in damage to nerve fibers, which can cause pain or a tingling sensation. People with this condition also suffer from a loss of sensory perception in the affected areas. .... In the analysis, which appears in the January issue of Diabetes Care, researchers evaluated the results of two studies testing two doses of acetyl-L-carnitine -- 500 milligrams and 1,000 milligrams three times a day. ...
The two studies involved 1,257 people with diabetic neuropathy in the U.S., Canada, and Europe and lasted for one year.
The analysis shows that people treated with the 1,000-milligram dose of acetyl-L-carnitine showed significant improvement after both six months and one year of treatment.

For full text of abstracts above & URLs to sources:

The effects of acetyl-L-carnitine and sorbinil on peripheral nerve structure, chemistry, and function in experimental diabetes

Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental (USA), 1996, 45/7 (902-907)

Nerve conduction velocity (NCV) increased with age in nondiabetic male Wistar rats for the first 26 weeks of life. The NCV of animals made hyperglycemic at age 6 weeks by administration of streptozotocin (STZ) also increases, but at a slower rate. Animals with 4 weeks of hyperglycemia and reduced NCV treated with an aldose reductase inhibitor (sorbinil) or a short- chain acyl-carnitine (acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC)) daily for 16 weeks showed an improvement in NCV. Morphometric studies of tibial nerves collected from animals after 20 weeks of hyperglycemia (age 26 weeks) showed a consistent reduction in the width of the myelin sheath and little change in axon area. The number of large myelinated fibers (>6.5 microm) found in nerves collected from hyperglycemic animals was less than the number found in nondiabetic animals. Treatment of hyperglycemic rats with either sorbinil or ALC was associated with increased NCV, myelin width, and large myelinated fibers. The apparent metabolic effect of these agents was similar for fatty acid metabolism, but different for polyol pathway activity. We conclude that in animals hyperglycemic long enough to slow NCV, sorbinil and/or ALC treatment reduces the functional, structural, and biochemical changes associated with hyperglycemia that occur in the myelin sheath.

Acetyl-L-carnitine deficiency as a cause of altered nerve myo-inositol content, Na,K-ATPase activity, and motor conduction velocity in the streptozotocin-diabetic rat

Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental (USA), 1996, 45/7 (865-872)

Defective metabolism of long-chain fatty acids and/or their accumulation in nerve may impair nerve function in diabetes by altering plasma or mitochondrial membrane integrity and perturbing intracellular metabolism and energy production. Carnitine and its acetylated derivatives such as acetyl- L-carnitine (ALC) promote fatty acid beta-oxidation in liver and prevent motor nerve conduction velocity (MNCV) slowing in diabetic rats. Neither the presence nor the possible implications of putative ALC deficiency have been definitively established in diabetic nerve. This study explored sciatic nerve ALC levels and the dose-dependent effects of ALC replacement on sciatic nerve metabolites, Na,K-ATPase, and MNCV after 2 and 4 weeks of streptozotocin- induced diabetes (STZ-D) in the rat. ALC treatment that increased nerve ALC levels delayed (to 4 weeks) but did not prevent nerve myo-inositol (Mf) depletion, but prevented MNCV slowing and decreased ouabain-sensitive (but not-insensitive) ATPase activity in a dose-dependent fashion. However, ouabain-sensitive ATPase activity was also corrected by subtherapeutic doses of ALC that did not increase nerve ALC affect MNCV. These data implicate nerve ALC depletion in diabetes as a factor contributing to alterations in nerve intermediary and energy metabolism and impulse conduction in diabetes, but suggest that these alterations may be differentially affected by various degrees of ALC depletion.

Primary preventive and secondary interventionary effects of acetyl-L- carnitine on diabetic neuropathy in the bio-breeding Worcester rat

Journal of Clinical Investigation (USA), 1996, 97/8 (1900-1907)

The abnormalities underlying diabetic neuropathy appear to be multiple and involve metabolic neuronal and vasomediated defects. The accumulation of long-chain fatty acids and impaired beta-oxidation due to deficiencies in carnitine and/or its esterified derivatives, such as acetyl-L-carnitine, may have deleterious effects. In the present study, we examined, in the diabetic bio-breeding Worcester rat, the short- and long-term effects of acetyl-L- carnitine administration on peripheral nerve polyols, myoinositol, Na+/K+- ATPase, vasoactive prostaglandins, nerve conduction velocity, and pathologic changes. Short-term prevention (4 mo) with acetyl-L-carnitine had no effects on nerve polyols, but corrected the Na+/K+-ATPase defect and was associated with 63% prevention of the nerve conduction defect and complete prevention of structural changes. Long-term prevention (8 mo) and intervention (from 4 to 8 mo) with acetyl-L-carnitine treatment normalized nerve PGE1 whereas 6-keto PGF(1alpha) and PGE2 were unaffected. In the prevention study, the conduction defect was 73% prevented and structural abnormalities attenuated. Intervention with acetyl-L-carnitine resulted in 76% recovery of the conduction defect and corrected neuropathologic changes characteristic of 4- mo diabetic rats. Acetyl-L-carnitine treatment promoted nerve fiber regeneration, which was increased two-fold compared to nontreated diabetic rats. These results demonstrate that acetyl-L-carnitine has a preventive effect on the acute Na+/K+-ATPase defect and a preventive and corrective effect on PGE1 in chronically diabetic nerve associated with improvements of nerve conduction velocity and pathologic changes.

Acetyl-L-carnitine corrects the altered peripheral nerve function of experimental diabetes

Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental (USA), 1995, 44/5 (677-680)

Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) has been shown to facilitate the repair of transacted sciatic nerves. The effect of ALC (50 mg/kg/d) on the diminished nerve conduction velocity (NCV) of rats with streptozotocin (STZ)-induced hyperglycemia of 3 weeks' duration was evaluated. The aldose reductase inhibitor, sorbinil, which is reported to normalize the impaired NCV associated with experimental diabetes, was used as a positive control. Aldose reductase inhibitors are thought to have an effect by decreasing peripheral nerve sorbitol content and increasing nerve myo-inositol. Treatment of STZ- diabetic rats with either ALC or sorbinil resulted in normal NCV. Sorbinil treatment was associated with normalized sciatic nerve sorbitol and myo- inositol; ALC treatment did not reduce the elevated sorbitol levels, but sciatic nerve myo-inositol content was no different from nondiabetic levels. Both ALC and sorbinil treatment of STZ-diabetic rats were associated with a reduction in the elevated malondialdehyde (MDA) content of diabetic sciatic news, indicating reduced lipid peroxidation. The beneficial effects of sorbinil and ALC on the altered peripheral nerve function associated with diabetes were similar, but their effects on the polyol pathway (frequently implicated in the pathogenesis of peripheral neuropathy) were different.

Diabetic neuropathy in the rat: 1. Alcar augments the reduced levels and axoplasmic transport of substance P

RES. (USA), 1995, 40/3

This study examined the sciatic nerve axonal transport of substance P-like immunoreactivity (SPLI) and its basal content in stomach, sciatic nerve and lumbar spinal cord of 8- and 12-week alloxan-diabetic rats, respectively. One group of diabetic rats received acetyl-l-carnitine (ALCAR) throughout the experimental period. Alloxan treatment caused hyperglycemia and reduced body growth. Axonal transport of SPLI was studied by measurement of 24-hour accumulation at a ligature on the sciatic nerve. There was a marked reduction (from 50% to 100% according to the nerve segment examined) of anterograde and retrograde accumulation of SPLI in the constricted nerve of 8-week diabetic rats. In the sciatic nerve of ALCAR-treated diabetic rats, the accumulation of SPLI was comparable to control values. In the sciatic nerve, lumbar spinal cord and stomach of 12-week diabetic rats, there is a significant reduction of SPLI content. ALCAR treatment prevented SPLI loss in these tissues. Sciatic nerves showed the typical sorbitol increase and myo-inositol loss that were significantly counteracted by ALCAR. This study suggests that ALCAR treatment prevents diabetes-induced sensory neuropathy by improving altered metabolic pathways such as polyol activity and myo-inositol synthesis, and by preventing the reduction of synthesis and axonal transport of substance P.

Neural dysfunction and metabolic imbalances in diabetic rats: Prevention by acetyl-L-carnitine

DIABETES (USA), 1994, 43/12 (1469-1477)

The rationale for these experiments is that administration of L-carnitine and/or short-chain acylcarnitines attenuates myocardial dysfunction 1) in hearts from diabetic animals (in which L-carnitine levels are decreased); 2) induced by ischemia-reperfusion in hearts from nondiabetic animals; and 3) in nondiabetic humans with ischemic heart disease. The objective of these studies was to investigate whether imbalances in carnitine metabolism play a role in the pathogenesis of diabetic peripheral neuropathy. The major findings in rats with streptozotocin-induced diabetes of 4-6 weeks duration were that 24-h urinary carnitine excretion was increased approximately twofold and L-carnitine levels were decreased in plasma (46%) and sciatic nerve endoneurium (31%). These changes in carnitine levels/excretion were associated with decreased caudal nerve conduction velocity (10-15%) and sciatic nerve changes in Na+-K+-ATPase activity (decreased 50%), Mg2+- ATPase (decreased 65%), 1,2-diacyl-sn-glycerol (DAG) (decreased 40%), vascular albumin permeation (increased 60%), and blood flow (increased 65%). Treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine normalized plasma and endoneurial L- carnitine levels and prevented all of these metabolic and functional changes except the increased blood flow, which was unaffected, and the reduction in DAG, which decreased another 40%. In conclusion, these observations 1) demonstrate a link between imbalances in carnitine metabolism and several metabolic and functional abnormalities associated with diabetic polyneuropathy and 2) indicate that decreased sciatic nerve endoneurial ATPase activity (ouabain-sensitive and insensitive) in this model of diabetes is associated with decreased DAG.

Acetyl-L-carnitine prevents substance P loss in the sciatic nerve and lumbar spinal cord of diabetic animals

INT. J. CLIN. PHARMACOL. RES. (Switzerland), 1992, 12/5-6 (243-246)

Diabetic neuropathy is a disease of peripheral nerves, characterized by axonal atrophy and degeneration that might be preceded by a marked impairment of axonal transport and by a reduced conduction velocity. Sensory nerves are particularly susceptible to diabetes. In the present report it is shown that experimental diabetes in rats causes a significant reduction of the content of the pain-related neuropeptide substance P in sciatic nerve and lumbar spinal cord. Such a loss of substance P is fully prevented by acetyl-L-camitine treatment. The neuroprotective pharmacological effect is selective and takes place without significant changes of hyperglycaemia and without modifications of the reduced rate of body growth typical of diabetic animals.

Altered neuroexcitability in experimental diabetic neuropathy: Effect of acetyl-L-carnitine

INT. J. CLIN. PHARMACOL. RES. (Switzerland), 1992, 12/5-6 (237-241)

Sciatic nerve conduction velocity (NCV) is reduced in rats made hyperglycaemic with streptozotocin (STZ). This neurophysiological dysfunction has been associated with increased nerve sorbitol and reduced nerve inositol. Treatment of STZ diabetic rats with aldose reductase inhibitors (ARls) which reduce sorbitol and increase inositol in the nerve results in normalization of NCVs. Male Wistar rats were made diabetic with 50 mg/kg of streptozotocin given intraperitoneally. Those animals with blood glucose > 300 mg/dl two weeks later were included in this study. The STZ-diabetic rats were treated with either the ARl sorbinil (40 mg/kg per day), or acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) (300 mg/kg per day) or sterile 0.15% aqueous NaCl for 16 weeks after 4 or 8 weeks of untreated hyperglycaemia. A control group of non-diabetic rats received no treatment during the interval. Sciatic-nerve sorbitol was elevated (1.08 plus or minus 0.13 nanomol/mg wet weight vs. 0.19 plus or minus 0.03 nm/mg wet weight) and inositol was reduced (1.21 plus or minus 0.12 nm/mg ww vs. 2.02 plus or minus 0.08 nm/mg ww) in the STZ diabetic rats, which were untreated for 4 weeks. Treatment with sorbinil was associated with normalization of the tissue sorbitol (0.10 plus or minus 0.05 nm/mg ww), while ALC treatment also significantly reduced the nerve sorbitol but only to a level (0.34 plus or minus 0.08 nm/mg ww) more elevated than the normal level. The nerves of STZ animals treated with sorbinil or ALC had inositol levels no different from untreated diabetic rats. Thus, hyperglycaemic animals treated with either ALC or sorbinil had similar improvements in NCVs as the diabetic, even though the effect on nerve sorbitol was different and nerve inositol was unchanged: It appears that ALC corrects the reduced NCVs of diabetes by a method that does not alter nerve inositol levels.

Peptide alterations in automatic diabetic neuropathy prevented by acetyl-L-carnitine

CLIN. PHARMACOL. RES. (Switzerland), 1992, 12/5-6 (225-230)

Autonomic neuropathy and gastrointestinal problems are among the most common complications of diabetes. In this report it is shown that a possible correlation between the two disorders might exist, since diabetes causes a profound alteration of the peptidergic innervation of the gut. It is reported that 14 weeks after diabetes induction with alloxan the levels of substance P and methionine-enkephalin are markedly reduced throughout the intestine, while vasoactive intestinal polypeptide content is dramatically increased. Therefore the enteric innervation of diabetic animals is completely disorganized, with some systems undergoing atrophy and others undergoing hypertrophy. Treatment of diabetic animals with acetyl-L-carntinine prevents the onset of the marked peptide changes described above. The results suggest a potential for acetyl-L-carnitine in the treatment of autonomic neuropathies.

Acetyl-L-carnitine effect on nerve conduction velocity in streptozotocin-diabetic rats

ARZNEIM.-FORSCH. DRUG RES. (Germany), 1993, 43/3 (343-346)

Measurement of nerve conduction velocity (NCV) is a useful and sensitive tool for evaluating diabetes related neurological dysfunctions. The method used allows to monitor the parameter at different times in the same group of rats, so that it is possible to observe simultaneously the development of the damage in time, and to evaluate the improvement related to the treatment. The repeated oral treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC, CAS 5080-50-2) 250 mg/kg caused an improvement in NCV of the diabetic rats; the effect was higher when the treatment started early with respect to the diabetes induction. The improvement in NCV was constant in time and comparable from 2 to 6 weeks of the treatment. In conclusion, oral treatment with ALC was able to normalize the impairment of NCV in streptozotocin rats, the effect being constant in time from 2 to 6 weeks of treatment and up to 8 weeks after induction when administration started in early stage of diabetes (2-3 weeks after induction); however, at this time the NCV is already significantly decreased.

Differential effects of acetyl-L-carnitine, L-carnitine and gangliosides on nerve Na+,K+-ATPase impairment in experimental diabetes

DIABETES NUTR. METAB. CLIN. EXP. (Italy), 1992, 5/1 (31-36)

The pharmacological action of acetyl-L-carnitine and its parent compound, L-carnitine, was assessed on sciatic nerve Na+,K+-ATPase activity in streptozotocin (STZ)-diabetic rats. The two substances were injected intraperitoneally (i.p.) at the daily dose of 50 mg/kg, for 4 consecutive weeks, starting one week after induction of diabetes. A bovine brain-derived ganglioside mixture (10 mg/kg/d i.p.for 4 weeks) was used as a positive control. The data here reported show that Na+,K+-ATPase activity was reduced by 40% in diabetic nerve; such a decrease was not affected by acetyl-L-carnitine or L-carnitine treatments, but was completely counteracted by gangliosides. Furthermore, unlike gangliosides, carnitine compounds tested in in vitro models did not elicit neurite outgrowth from neuroblastoma (N2A) cells and did not potentiate the trophic effect of nerve growth factor (NGF) on dorsal root ganglion cells. Because of the potential implication of NGF deficits and loss of neuroplastic responses in diabetic neuropathy, the present results could conceivably reflect the well-known capability of gangliosides, but not of either acetyl-L-carnitine or L-carnitine, to facilitate neuronotrophic interactions and maintenance of nerve membrane functional integrity.