Aim: Levocarnitine is an important contributor to cellular energy metabolism. This study aims to evaluate the effects of levocarnitine supplementation on body composition, lipid profile and fatigue in elderly subjects with rapid muscle fatigue.
Method: This was a placebo-controlled, randomised, double-blind, two-phase study. Eighty-four elderly subjects with onset of fatigue following slight physical activity were recruited to the study. Prior to randomisation all patients entered a 2-week normalisation phase where they were given an 'ad libitum'diet, according to the National Cholesterol Education Program (Step 2). Subjects were asked to record their daily food intake every 2 days. Before the 30-day treatment phase, subjects were randomly assigned to two groups (matched for male/female ratio, age and body mass index). One group received levocarnitine 2g twice daily (n = 42) and the other placebo (n = 42). Efficacy measures included changes in total fat mass, total muscle mass, serum triglyceride, total cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), apolipoprotein (apo)A1, and apoB levels. The Wessely and Powell scale was used to evaluate physical and mental fatigue. Subjects were assessed at the beginning and end of the study period.
Results: At the end of the study, compared with placebo, the levocarnitine-treated patients showed significant improvements in the following parameters: total fat mass (-3.1 vs -0.5 kg), total muscle mass (+2.1 vs +0.2 kg), total cholesterol (-1.2 vs +0.1 mmol/L), LDL-C (-1.1 vs -0.2 mmol/L), HDL-C (+0.2 vs +0.01 mmol/L), triglycerides (-0.3 vs 0.0 mmol/L), apoA1 (-0.2 vs 0.0 g/L), and apoB (-0.3 vs -0.1 g/L). Wessely and Powell scores decreased significantly by 40% (physical fatigue) and 45% (mental fatigue) in subjects taking levocarnitine, compared with 11% and 8%, respectively, in the placebo group (p < 0.001 vs placebo for both parameters). No adverse events were reported in any treatment group.
Conclusion: Administration of levocarnitine to healthy elderly subjects resulted in a reduction of total fat mass, an increase of total muscle mass, and appeared to exert a favourable effect on fatigue and serum lipids.