l-Carnitine improves cognitive and renal functions in a rat model of chronic kidney disease

Physiol Behav. 2016 Oct 1;164(Pt A):182-8. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.05.036. Epub 2016 May 27.


Over the past decade, the prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) has reached epidemic proportions. The search for novel pharmacological treatment for CKD has become an area of intensive clinical research. l-Carnitine, considered as the "gatekeeper" responsible for admitting long chain fatty acids into cell mitochondria. l-Carnitine synthesis and turnover are regulated mainly by the kidney and its levels inversely correlate with serum creatinine of normal subjects and CKD patients. Previous studies showed that l-carnitine administration to elderly people is improving and preserving cognitive function. As yet, there are no clinical intervention studies that investigated the effect of l-carnitine administration on cognitive impairment evidenced in CKD patients. Thus, we aimed to investigate the effects of l-carnitine treatment on renal function and on the cognitive performance in a rat model of progressive CKD. To assess the role of l-carnitine on CKD condition, we estimated the renal function and cognitive abilities in a CKD rat model. We found that all CKD animals exhibited renal function deterioration, as indicated by elevated serum creatinine, BUN, and ample histopathological abnormalities. l-Carnitine treatment of CKD rats significantly reduced serum creatinine and BUN, attenuated renal hypertrophy and decreased renal tissue damage. In addition, in the two way shuttle avoidance learning, CKD animals showed cognitive impairment which recovered by the administration of l-carnitine. We conclude that in a rat model of CKD, l-carnitine administration significantly improved cognitive and renal functions.

Keywords: Chronic kidney disease; Cognitive performance; Rat model; l-Carnitine.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Avoidance Learning / drug effects
  • Blood Urea Nitrogen
  • Carnitine / pharmacology*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Creatinine / blood
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Escape Reaction / drug effects
  • Hyalin / metabolism
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Male
  • Natriuretic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Nephrectomy
  • Nootropic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / drug therapy*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / metabolism*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / pathology
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / psychology


  • Natriuretic Agents
  • Nootropic Agents
  • Creatinine
  • Carnitine