Background: The mechanism(s) underlying the effects of L-carnitine (beta-hydroxy-gamma-N-trimethylammonium-butyrate; LC) in cardiovascular diseases are not well clarified. Previous studies have demonstrated that oxidative stress and inflammation contribute to arterial hypertension, and antioxidant and/or anti-inflammatory therapies have been proposed. We hypothesized that LC might attenuate the hypertensive status through an inhibition of inflammation process.
Methods: Heart mRNA expression and plasma levels of inflammatory markers, interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), were measured in rats that were made hypertensive with N(omega)-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) and subjected to a simultaneous administration of LC. To clarify the role of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS) in this effect of LC, the activity and expression of angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE) as well as the expression of angiotensin II type I receptor (AT1R) in the heart were also determined.
Results: LC produced a significant, but not complete, reduction of blood pressure in L-NAME-treated rats. Plasma levels and heart expression of IL-1 beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha showed an increase in the L-NAME group, which was reversed by LC treatment. The plasma ACE activity was not modified between normotensive and hypertensive rats although LC treatment produced a reduction of these values in the latter. Finally, protein and mRNA expression of ACE and AT1R was enhanced in the heart of L-NAME-treated animals, and LC reversed these values.
Conclusions: The chronic administration of LC reduces blood pressure and attenuates the inflammatory process associated with arterial hypertension. LC might produce a partial inactivation in the RAS resulting in a reduction in the production and effects of angiotensin II.