European multicenter study on propionyl-L-carnitine in intermittent claudication

J Am Coll Cardiol. 1999 Nov 1;34(5):1618-24. doi: 10.1016/s0735-1097(99)00373-3.


Objectives: This study was performed to identify a target population of claudicants for propionyl-L-carnitine treatment.

Background: Previous studies suggest that the efficacy of propionyl-L-carnitine in intermittent claudication is greater in patients with severe functional impairment than in those with mild walking disability.

Methods: After run-in, 485 claudicant patients were randomized to placebo or propionyl-L-carnitine (1 g bid, p.o.) and then stratified on the basis of maximal walking distance (cutoff point 250 m) and maximal walking distance variability (cutoff point 25%). Treatment lasted 12 months. Walking capacity was assessed by treadmill and quality of life by a questionnaire exploring various aspects of daily life.

Results: In the target population, that is, patients who at baseline walked < or = 250 m and showed a maximal walking distance variability < or = 25%, per-protocol analysis showed that the effect of propinyl-L-carnitine was significantly greater than that with placebo for both maximal walking distance and initial claudication distance (ICD). In the intention-to-treat population, maximal walking distance increased by 62 +/- 14% on propionyl-L-carnitine and by 46 +/- 9% (p < 0.05) on placebo, while no difference between treatments was observed for ICD. The beneficial effect of propionyl-L-carnitine was confirmed when data of the target population were pooled with those of patients who at baseline walked < or = 250 m and showed a > 25% maximal walking distance < 50% variability. Actually, maximal walking distance increased by 98 +/- 16% in the propionyl-L-carnitine group and by only 54 +/- 10% in the placebo group (p < 0.01). The corresponding values for ICD were 99 +/- 21% and 51 +/- 8% (p < 0.05). For patients with baseline maximal walking distance > 250 m, no difference between treatments was observed.

Conclusions: Claudicants with maximal walking distance < or = 250 m benefited from the use of propionyl-L-carnitine, with improvement in walking distance and quality of life. However, patients with mild functional impairment (i.e., walking distance > 250 m) showed no response to propionyl-L-carnitine.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carnitine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Carnitine / therapeutic use
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intermittent Claudication / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • propionylcarnitine
  • Carnitine