Background: Fatigue is common in celiac disease. L-Carnitine blood levels are low in untreated celiac disease. L-Carnitine therapy was shown to improve muscular fatigue in several diseases.
Aim: To evaluate the effect of L-carnitine treatment in fatigue in adult celiac patients.
Methods: Randomised double-blind versus placebo parallel study. Thirty celiac disease patients received 2 g daily, 180 days (L-carnitine group) and 30 were assigned to the placebo group (P group). The patients underwent clinical investigation and questionnaires (Scott-Huskisson Visual Analogue Scale for Asthenia, Verbal Scale for Asthenia, Zung Depression Scale, SF-36 Health Status Survey, EuroQoL). OCTN2 levels, the specific carnitine transporter, were detected in intestinal tissue.
Results: Fatigue measured by Scott-Huskisson Visual Analogue Scale for Asthenia was significantly reduced in the L-carnitine group compared with the placebo group (p=0.0021). OCTN2 was decreased in celiac patients when compared to normal subjects (-134.67% in jejunum), and increased after diet in both celiac disease treatments. The other scales used did not show any significant difference between the two celiac disease treatment groups.
Conclusion: L-Carnitine therapy is safe and effective in ameliorating fatigue in celiac disease. Since L-carnitine is involved in muscle energy production its decreased absorption due to OCTN2 reduction might explain muscular symptoms in celiac disease patients. The diet-induced OCTN2 increase, improving carnitine absorption, might explain the L-carnitine treatment efficacy.