Efficacy of levo carnitine and alpha lipoic acid in ameliorating the decline in mitochondrial enzymes during aging

Clin Nutr. 2005 Oct;24(5):794-800. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2005.04.005.


Background: Mitochondria are central to energy production and are therefore fully integrated into the rest of the cell's physiological responses to stress. The age-related decline of capacity of each cell to manufacture energy (as ATP) is due to the progressive loss of structural integrity of mitochondria. It is apparent that as the body ages, the cells become less and less able to maintain threshold levels of cellular energy production.

Methods: In the present study we have evaluated the efficacy of carnitine, a mitochondrial metabolite and lipoic acid, a potent antioxidant on the activities of the tri carboxylic acid (TCA) cycle enzymes like succinate dehydrogenase, malate dehydrogenase, alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase, Isocitrate dehydrogenase and electron transport complex I-IV in young and aged heart mitochondria.

Result: We observed that there was an age-dependent decrement in the levels of the TCA cycle enzymes and electron transport chain complexes. Supplementation of carnitine (300 mg/kg bw/day) and lipoic acid (100 mg/kg bw/day) for 30 days brought the activities of these enzymes to almost near normal levels.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that the combination of these drugs raises the mitochondrial energy producing capabilities by reversing the age-associated decline in mitochondrial enzyme activities and thereby protecting mitochondria from aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aging / metabolism*
  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Carnitine / pharmacology*
  • Citric Acid Cycle / drug effects*
  • Electron Transport Complex IV
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Ketoglutarate Dehydrogenase Complex / metabolism
  • Malate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mitochondria, Heart / enzymology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Thioctic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin B Complex / pharmacology*


  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Thioctic Acid
  • Malate Dehydrogenase
  • Isocitrate Dehydrogenase
  • Ketoglutarate Dehydrogenase Complex
  • Succinate Dehydrogenase
  • Electron Transport Complex IV
  • Carnitine