Metabolic effects of L-carnitine on type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis

Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2013 Apr;121(4):234-8. doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1333688. Epub 2013 Feb 21.


Introduction: Carnitine is an endogenous metabolite and exogenous nutrient with a pivotal role in lipid metabolism. Plasma levels of carnitine are reduced in type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM). The aim was to evaluate the metabolic effects of the administration of L-carnitine in T2DM.

Method: A systematic review was performed. Relevant randomized, controlled-trials trials were searched in Pubmed, Trip Database and Cochrane Library, and selected when they had enough methodological quality assessed with the Jadad scale. Article search strategy included "Carnitine" OR "L-carnitine" AND "Diabetes -Mellitus" OR "Diabetes mellitus, type 2" OR "Noninsulindependent-diabetes mellitus". Meta-analysis was performed, and the difference of means calculated with a 95% confidence interval. Heterogeneity was evaluated with the Q statistic.

Results: The systematic review included 4 trials with 284 patients. Oral L-carnitine lowered fasting plasma glucose [-14.3 mg/dl (CI95% - 23.2 to -5.4); p=0,002], total cholesterol [-7.8 mg/dL (95%CI -15.5 to -0.1); p=0.09], low density lipoprotein [-8.8 mg/dl (CI95% -12.2 to -8.5), p<0.0001], apolipoprotein-B100 [-7.6 mg/dl (CI95% -13.6 to -1.6); p=0.013] and apolipoprotein-A1 [-6.0 mg/dl (CI95% -10.5 a -1.5); p=0.523]. There was no significant heterogeneity. The changes in triglycerides, lipoprotein (a) or HbA(1c) were not significant.

Conclusion: The administration of L-carnitine in type 2 diabetes mellitus is associated with an improvement in glycaemia and plasma lipids.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Apolipoprotein A-I / blood
  • Apolipoprotein B-100 / blood
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Carnitine / administration & dosage
  • Carnitine / therapeutic use*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Fasting
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lipids / blood
  • Lipoproteins, LDL / blood
  • Postprandial Period
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Apolipoprotein A-I
  • Apolipoprotein B-100
  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Lipids
  • Lipoproteins, LDL
  • Cholesterol
  • Carnitine