Skeletal muscle wasting, associated with aging, may be regulated by the inflammatory cytokines as well as by insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1). l-carnitine possesses anti-inflammatory properties and increases plasma IGF-1 concentration, leading to the regulation of the genes responsible for protein catabolism and anabolism. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the effect of a 24-week l-carnitine supplementation on serum inflammatory markers, IGF-1, body composition and skeletal muscle strength in healthy human subjects over 65 years of age. Women between 65 and 70 years of age were supplemented for 24 weeks with either 1500 mg l-carnitine-l-tartrate or an isonitrogenous placebo per day in a double-blind fashion. Before and after the supplementation protocol, body mass and composition, as well as knee extensor and flexor muscle strength were determined. In the blood samples, free carnitine, interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-α, C-reactive protein and IGF-1 were determined. A marked increase in free plasma carnitine concentration was observed due to l-carnitine supplementation. No substantial changes in other parameters were noted. In the current study, supplementation for 24 weeks affected neither the skeletal muscle strength nor circulating markers in healthy women over 65 years of age. Positive and negative aspects of l-carnitine supplementation need to be clarified.
Keywords: body composition; cytokines; muscle strength; sarcopenia.