Background: Respiratory functions are affected during hemodialysis. The strength of respiratory muscles, ultrafiltration rate, and acid-base balance have been suggested as important factors. L-carnitine is crucial for energy producing, utilization of fatty acid, and possible amino acids. A lack of carnitine in hemodialysis patients is caused by insufficient carnitine synthesis and especially by its loss during dialysis. This study was performed to investigate the chronic effects of L-carnitine treatment on respiratory functions in adults receiving chronic hemodialysis therapy.
Methods: A total of 20 hemodialysis patients were scheduled to take L-carnitine supplementation (20 mg/kg three times/week) (group 1), and the rest of 20 hemodialysis patients served as the control group and were observed without supplementation with L-carnitine (group 2). Pre- and post-dialytic L-carnitine levels and post-dialytic respiratory functions tests were performed in both groups at baseline and after six months.
Results: The average concentration of free and total carnitine levels increased significantly after six months of supplementation (p < 0.01). While a statistically significant increase between postdialytic forced expiratory volume in one second/forced vital capacity values after treatment period (77.10 +/- 12.15 and 83.00 +/- 14.49, before and after treatment, respectively, p < 0.05) was observed, the increase of vital capacity, forced expiratory volume in one second, and forced expiratory flow between 25-75% of expired vital capacity were not significant in the treatment group (p > 0.05).
Conclusion: Intravenous L-carnitine supplementation could contribute to the management of respiratory dysfunction in chronic hemodialysis patients by improving FEV1/FVC. The mechanism by which LC causes these effects merits further investigation.