Effects of acetyl-L-carnitine on the formation of fatty acid ethyl esters in brain and peripheral organs after short-term ethanol administration in rat

Neurochem Res. 2001 Feb;26(2):167-74. doi: 10.1023/a:1011003030287.


Increasing evidence suggests that Fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE) play a central role in ethanol induced organ damage. In the current study we measured FAEE formation in rats after short-term oral administration of ethanol, in the presence and absence of pre-treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine. Ethanol treatment caused a significant increase in the levels of FAEE, particularly in the brain and heart, but also in the kidney and liver. Increases in FAEE were associated with a significant increase in FAEE synthase activity, GSH transferase activity, and lipid hydroperoxide levels. Pretreatment with acetyl-L-carnitine resulted in a significant reduction of FAEE accumulation, decrease in FAEE synthase and GSH transferase activities, and lipid hydroperoxide levels. Administration of acetyl-L-carnitine greatly reduced the metabolic abnormalities due to non-oxidative ethanol metabolism, through an increment in lipid metabolism/turnover and by the modulation of the activities of enzymes associated with FAEE synthesis. These results suggest a potentially important pharmacological role for acetyl-L-carnitine in the prevention of alcohol-induced cellular damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcarnitine / pharmacology*
  • Acyltransferases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids / biosynthesis*
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxides / metabolism
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Fatty Acids
  • Lipid Peroxides
  • Ethanol
  • Acetylcarnitine
  • Acyltransferases
  • Glutathione Transferase
  • fatty acyl ethyl ester synthase