Carnosine: from exercise performance to health

Amino Acids. 2013 Jun;44(6):1477-91. doi: 10.1007/s00726-013-1476-2. Epub 2013 Mar 12.


Carnosine was first discovered in skeletal muscle, where its concentration is higher than in any other tissue. This, along with an understanding of its role as an intracellular pH buffer has made it a dipeptide of interest for the athletic population with its potential to increase high-intensity exercise performance and capacity. The ability to increase muscle carnosine levels via β-alanine supplementation has spawned a new area of research into its use as an ergogenic aid. The current evidence base relating to the use of β-alanine as an ergogenic aid is reviewed here, alongside our current thoughts on the potential mechanism(s) to support any effect. There is also some emerging evidence for a potential therapeutic role for carnosine, with this potential being, at least theoretically, shown in ageing, neurological diseases, diabetes and cancer. The currently available evidence to support this potential therapeutic role is also reviewed here, as are the potential limitations of its use for these purposes, which mainly focusses on issues surrounding carnosine bioavailability.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Availability
  • Carnosine / pharmacokinetics
  • Carnosine / physiology*
  • Carnosine / therapeutic use*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Time Factors
  • beta-Alanine / metabolism
  • beta-Alanine / pharmacology


  • beta-Alanine
  • Carnosine