Assessment of plasma acylcarnitines before and after weight loss in obese subjects

Arch Biochem Biophys. 2016 Sep 15;606:73-80. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2016 Jul 19.


Acylcarnitines, fatty acid oxidation (FAO) intermediates, have been implicated in diet-induced insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus, as increased levels are found in obese insulin resistant humans. Moreover plasma acylcarnitines have been associated with clinical parameters related to glucose metabolism, such as fasting glucose levels and HbA1c. We hypothesized that plasma acylcarnitines would correlate with energy expenditure, insulin sensitivity and other clinical parameters before and during a weight loss intervention. We measured plasma acylcarnitines in 60 obese subjects before and after a 12 week weight loss intervention. These samples originated from three different interventions (diet alone (n = 20); diet and exercise (n = 21); diet and drug treatment (n = 19)). Acylcarnitine profiles were analysed in relation to clinical parameters of glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity and energy expenditure. Conclusions were drawn from all 60 subjects together. Despite amelioration of HOMA-IR, plasma acylcarnitines levels increased during weight loss. HOMA-IR, energy expenditure and respiratory exchange ratio were not related to plasma acylcarnitines. However non-esterified fatty acids correlated strongly with several acylcarnitines at baseline and during the weight loss intervention (p < 0.001). Acylcarnitines did not correlate with clinical parameters of glucose metabolism during weight loss, questioning their role in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus.

Keywords: Acylcarnitines; Fatty acid oxidation; Insulin resistance; Weight loss.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Body Composition
  • Carnitine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Carnitine / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood*
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood
  • Female
  • Glucose / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipolysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood*
  • Obesity / complications
  • Oxygen / chemistry
  • Respiration
  • Weight Loss*
  • Young Adult


  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • acylcarnitine
  • Glucose
  • Carnitine
  • Oxygen