Role of carnitine and its derivatives in the development and management of type 2 diabetes

Nutr Diabetes. 2018 Mar 7;8(1):8. doi: 10.1038/s41387-018-0017-1.


Type 2 diabetes is a highly prevalent chronic metabolic disorder characterized by hyperglycemia and associated with several complications such as retinopathy, hyperlipidemia and polyneuropathy. The dysregulated fatty acid metabolism along with tissue lipid accumulation is generally assumed to be associated in the development of insulin resistance and T2D. Moreover, several studies suggest a central role for oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of the disease. Since L-carnitine (LC) has an indispensable role in lipid metabolism via its involvement in the β-oxidation of long-chain fatty acids and it has antioxidant properties as well, carnitine supplementation may prove to be an effective tool in the management of the clinical course of T2D. In this review we summarize the results from animal and clinical studies demonstrating the effects of supplementation with LC or LC derivatives (acetyl-LC, propionyl-LC) on various metabolic and clinical parameters associated with T2D.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use*
  • Carnitine / analogs & derivatives
  • Carnitine / pharmacology
  • Carnitine / therapeutic use*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Oxidative Stress*


  • Antioxidants
  • Carnitine