Acetyl-L-carnitine and α-lipoic acid affect rotenone-induced damage in nigral dopaminergic neurons of rat brain, implication for Parkinson's disease therapy

Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2012 Jan;100(3):347-60. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2011.09.002. Epub 2011 Sep 21.


Although the mechanisms of neurodegeneration in Parkinson's disease are not fully understood, mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress and environmental toxins may be involved. The current research was directed to investigate the protective role of two bioenergetic antioxidants, acetyl-L-carnitine and α-lipoic acid, in rotenone-parkinsonian rats. Ninety six male rats were divided into five groups. Group I is the vehicle-injected group, group II is the disease control group and was injected with six doses of rotenone (1.5 mg/kg/48 h, s.c.). Groups III, IV and V received rotenone in addition to acetyl-L-carnitine (100 mg/kg/day, p.o.), α-lipoic acid (50 mg/kg/day, p.o.) or their combination, respectively. Results showed that rotenone-treated rats exhibited bradykinesia and motor impairment in the open-field and square bridge tests. In addition, ATP level was decreased whereas lipid peroxides and protein carbonyls increased in the striata of rotenone-treated rats as compared to vehicle-treated rats. Treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine or α-lipoic acid improved the motor performance and reduced the level of lipid peroxides in rat brains as compared to rotenone group. Further, ATP production was enhanced along with acetyl-L-carnitine treatments (p≤0.05). Taken together, our study reinforces the view that acetyl-L-carnitine and α-lipoic acid are promising candidates for neuroprotection in Parkinson's disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcarnitine / therapeutic use*
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / metabolism*
  • Dopaminergic Neurons / pathology
  • Hypokinesia / prevention & control
  • Lipid Peroxides / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Parkinson Disease / diet therapy
  • Parkinson Disease / metabolism
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology
  • Parkinson Disease / prevention & control*
  • Protein Carbonylation / drug effects
  • Psychomotor Disorders / prevention & control
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rotenone
  • Substantia Nigra / metabolism*
  • Substantia Nigra / pathology
  • Survival Analysis
  • Thioctic Acid / therapeutic use*
  • Vitamin B Complex / therapeutic use


  • Antioxidants
  • Lipid Peroxides
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Rotenone
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Acetylcarnitine
  • Thioctic Acid
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Dopamine