Background: Frailty is a biological syndrome of decreased reserve and resistance to stressors due to decline in multiple physiological systems. Amino acid deficiency, including L-carnitine, has been proposed to be associated with its pathophysiology. Nevertheless, the efficacy of L-carnitine supplementation on frailty status has not been documented. Thus, this study aimed to determine the effect of 10-week L-carnitine supplement (1.5 g/day) on frailty status and its biomarkers and also physical function, cognition, and nutritional status among prefrail older adults in Klang Valley, Malaysia.
Methodology: This study is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted among 50 prefrail subjects randomized into two groups (26 in L-carnitine group and 24 in placebo group). Outcome measures include frailty status using Fried criteria and Frailty Index accumulation of deficit, selected frailty biomarkers (interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, and insulin-like growth factor-1), physical function, cognitive function, nutritional status and biochemical profile.
Results: The results indicated that the mean scores of Frailty Index score and hand grip test were significantly improved in subjects supplemented with L-carnitine (P<0.05 for both parameters) as compared to no change in the placebo group. Based on Fried criteria, four subjects (three from the L-carnitine group and one from the control group) transited from prefrail status to robust after the intervention.
Conclusion: L-carnitine supplementation has a favorable effect on the functional status and fatigue in prefrail older adults.
Keywords: Frailty Index accumulation of deficit; Fried criteria; L-carnitine supplementation; frailty; frailty biomarkers; physical function; prefrail elderly; randomized controlled clinical trial.