Objective: Considering the importance of inflammation in the pathogenesis of osteoarthritis (OA) and induction of pain, this study was aimed to investigate the effect of L-carnitine supplementation on serum inflammatory mediators and OA-associated pain in females with knee OA.
Methods: In this clinical trial, 72 females with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis started the study, divided into 2 groups to receive 750 mg/day L-carnitine (n = 36) or placebo (n = 36) for 8 weeks. Serum levels of Interleukine-1β (IL-1β), high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs)-1 and -13, and visual analog scale (VAS) for pain were assessed before and after supplementation. Data were analyzed by t test, Wilcoxon signed rank test, Mann-Whitney U test, and analysis of covariance.
Results: Only 69 patients (33 in the L-carnitine group and 36 in the placebo group) completed the study. L-Carnitine supplementation decreased serum IL-1β and MMP-1 levels significantly (p = 0.001 and p = 0.021, respectively); however, serum hs-CRP and MMP-13 levels did not change significantly (p > 0.05). In the placebo group, serum IL-1β levels increased significantly (p = 0.011), whereas other studied biomarkers did not change significantly. The mean VAS score decreased significantly in the L-carnitine and placebo groups by 52.67% and 21.82%, respectively (p < 0.001). Significant differences were only observed between the 2 groups in serum IL-1β (p < 0.001) and MMP-1 (p = 0.006) levels and mean VAS score (p = 0.002) after adjusting for baseline values and covariates.
Conclusion: Despite observed beneficial effects of short-term supplementation of L-carnitine in decreasing serum inflammatory mediators and improving pain in knee OA patients, further studies are needed to achieve concise conclusions.
Keywords: L-carnitine; inflammation; matrix metalloproteinase; osteoarthritis.