Urinary excretion of acetylcarnitine during human diabetic and fasting ketosis

Am J Physiol. 1982 Aug;243(2):E168-72. doi: 10.1152/ajpendo.1982.243.2.E168.


The urinary excretion of acetylcarnitine was studied in patients with diabetic ketosis before and during insulin therapy and in normal-weight and obese subjects during fasting. In the diabetic ketotic patients, acetylcarnitine represented 61% of the total acylcarnitine excretion. During the first 24 h of insulin treatment, acetylcarnitine excretion decreased and on the 5th day of treatment was 18% of the acylcarnitines excreted. The urinary excretion of the other acylcarnitines fell slowly. In normal-weight subjects fasted for 3 days, the urinary excretion of acetylcarnitine increased on the 2nd day of fasting, and on the 3rd day acetylcarnitine accounted for 78% of the excreted acylcarnitine. In obese subjects there was a progressive increase in urinary acetylcarnitine excretion, but on day 6 it represented only 55% of the total acylcarnitine excreted. The urinary excretion of acetylcarnitine correlated with blood beta-hydroxybutyrate concentration in the normal-weight subjects during fasting and in the diabetic ketotic patients. Acetylcarnitine accounts for a major fraction of the acylcarnitines excreted in the three ketotic conditions studied. The contribution of acetylcarnitine to the change in acylcarnitines as ketosis appears or disappears is significantly less in the obese subjects than in the normal-weight subjects or in the diabetic patients. This difference may reflect an alteration in the production or disposition of acetyl-CoA and acetylcarnitine in obesity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcarnitine / urine*
  • Acidosis / urine*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Weight
  • Carnitine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Child
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis / urine*
  • Fasting / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ketosis / etiology
  • Ketosis / urine*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / urine


  • Acetylcarnitine
  • Carnitine