Propionyl l-carnitine: intermittent claudication and peripheral arterial disease

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2009 Nov;10(16):2697-707. doi: 10.1517/14656560903215871.


Peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a clinical manifestation of underlying aorto-iliac and leg atherosclerosis that is characterized by different stages of stenosis and obstruction. It affects approximately 12% of the adult population and about 20% of people over the age of 70 years, and is associated with increased cardiovascular (CV) and cerebrovascular morbidity. Intermittent claudication (IC) is the major symptom of PAD; it is defined as cramping leg pain (in the buttock, thigh, or calf) while/after clim bing one or two flights of stairs, or during walking. The goals of IC management are to: slow the progression of local and systemic atherosclerosis, prevent major fatal and nonfatal CV events (myocardial infarction and stroke), improve walking capacity, prevent and reduce resting pain and cutaneous lesions. Propionyl L-carnitine is an acyl derivative of levocarnitine (L-carnitine) and is indicated for patients with peripheral arterial occlusive disease. It corrects secondary muscle carnitine deficiency in patients with PAD, significantly improving the walking capacity; it is a free radical that produces positive effects on endothelial function; it protects from oxidative stress; and it enhances most measures of quality of life. The recent Trans-Atlantic Inter-Society Consensus II update recommends the use of propionyl L-carnitine in combination with physical training to improve the symptoms associated with PAD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiotonic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Cardiotonic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Carnitine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Carnitine / pharmacokinetics
  • Carnitine / therapeutic use
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Intermittent Claudication / drug therapy*
  • Peripheral Vascular Diseases / drug therapy*


  • Cardiotonic Agents
  • propionylcarnitine
  • Carnitine