Analytical approaches to determination of carnitine in biological materials, foods and dietary supplements

Food Chem. 2014 Jan 1:142:220-32. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2013.06.137. Epub 2013 Jul 18.


l-Carnitine is a vitamin-like amino acid derivative, which is an essential factor in fatty acid metabolism as acyltransferase cofactor and in energy production processes, such as interconversion in the mechanisms of regulation of cetogenesis and termogenesis, and it is also used in the therapy of primary and secondary deficiency, and in other diseases. The determination of carnitine and acyl-carnitines can provide important information about inherited or acquired metabolic disorders, and for monitoring the biochemical effect of carnitine therapy. The endogenous carnitine pool in humans is maintained by biosynthesis and absorption of carnitine from the diet. Carnitine has one asymmetric carbon giving two stereoisomers d and l, but only the l form has a biological positive effect, thus chiral recognition of l-carnitine enantiomers is extremely important in biological, chemical and pharmaceutical sciences. In order to get more insight into carnitine metabolism and synthesis, a sensitive analysis for the determination of the concentration of free carnitine, carnitine esters and the carnitine precursors is required. Carnitine has been investigated in many biochemical, pharmacokinetic, metabolic and toxicokinetic studies and thus many analytical methods have been developed and published for the determination of carnitine in foods, dietary supplements, pharmaceutical formulations, biological tissues and body fluid. The analytical procedures presented in this review have been validated in terms of basic parameters (linearity, limit of detection, limit of quantitation, sensitivity, accuracy, and precision). This article presented the impact of different analytical techniques, and provides an overview of applications that address a diverse array of pharmaceutical and biological questions and samples.

Keywords: (+)-FLEC; (+)-[1-(9-fluorenyl)-ethyl]-chloroformate; 1-(3-dimethylaminopropyl)-3-ethylcarbodiimide hydrochloride; 1-aminoanthracene; 1-ethyl-3-(3-dimethylaminopropyl) carbodiimide hydrochloride; 1AA; 2-(4-iodophenyl)-3-(4-nitrophenyl)-5-phenyl tetrazolium chloride; 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl]-2,5-diphenyl-tetrazolium bromide; 5,5′-dithiobis-2-nitrobenzoate; 5-thio-2-nitrobenzoate; Analytical methods; CAT; CE; CSP; CV; CZE; Carnitine; DM; DTNB; Determination; EDAC; EDC; ESI; FIA; FMOC; GC; HP-β-CD; HPLC; HRP; IC; INT; ITP; LC; LOD; LOQ; MS; MTT; N-(9-acridinyl)-malemide; NAD(+); NAM; NP; PFT; RP; RSD; Rs; SIA; TNB; UV; VIS; [2-hydroxypropyl]-β-cyclodextrin; capillary electrophoresis; capillary isotachophoresis; capillary zone electrophoresis; carnitine acetyltransferase; chiral stationary phase; coefficient of variation; correlation coefficient; dry matter; electrospray ionisation; emission wavelength; excitation wavelength; flow injection analysis; fluorenylmethyloxycarbonyl; gas chromatography; high performance liquid chromatography; horseradish peroxidase; ion pair chromatography; limit of detection; limit of quantification; liquid chromatography; mass spectrometry; nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide; normal phase; p-BPB; p-bromophenacyl bromide; partial-filling technique; peak resolution; r; relative standard deviation; reversed phase; separation factor; sequential injection analysis; ultraviolet; visible; wet weight; wet wt.; α; λ(em); λ(exc).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carnitine / analysis*
  • Chemistry Techniques, Analytical / methods*
  • Dietary Supplements / analysis*
  • Food Analysis*
  • Humans


  • Carnitine