L-Carnitine-supplementation in advanced pancreatic cancer (CARPAN)--a randomized multicentre trial

Nutr J. 2012 Jul 23;11:52. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-52.

Abstract

Background: Cachexia, a >10% loss of body-weight, is one factor determining the poor prognosis of pancreatic cancer. Deficiency of L-Carnitine has been proposed to cause cancer cachexia.

Findings: We screened 152 and enrolled 72 patients suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer in a prospective, multi-centre, placebo-controlled, randomized and double-blinded trial to receive oral L-Carnitine (4 g) or placebo for 12 weeks. At entry patients reported a mean weight loss of 12 ± 2.5 (SEM) kg. During treatment body-mass-index increased by 3.4 ± 1.4% under L-Carnitine and decreased (-1.5 ± 1.4%) in controls (p < 0.05). Moreover, nutritional status (body cell mass, body fat) and quality-of-life parameters improved under L-Carnitine. There was a trend towards an increased overall survival in the L-Carnitine group (median 519 ± 50 d versus 399 ± 43 d, not significant) and towards a reduced hospital-stay (36 ± 4d versus 41 ± 9d,n.s.).

Conclusion: While these data are preliminary and need confirmation they indicate that patients with pancreatic cancer may have a clinically relevant benefit from the inexpensive and well tolerated oral supplementation of L-Carnitine.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Composition
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cachexia / drug therapy*
  • Cachexia / etiology
  • Cachexia / physiopathology
  • Carnitine / therapeutic use*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / complications*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Vitamin B Complex / administration & dosage*
  • Weight Loss

Substances

  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Carnitine