L-carnitine via enzyme-catalyzed oxidative kinetic resolution

Bioorg Med Chem. 1994 Jun;2(6):415-20. doi: 10.1016/0968-0896(94)80009-x.


L-Carnitine of high optical purity was prepared via kinetic resolution using a mutant strain of Acinetobacter calcoaceticus ATCC 39647. This organism preferentially metabolized the D-enantiomer of the racemate to furnish L-carnitine. Recovery of L-carnitine was 93%, providing a total weight yield of 46.5% in 92% enantiomeric excess. The mode of degradation of carnitine was shown to proceed via a monooxygenase-catalyzed oxidative cleavage resulting in the formation of trimethylamine and malic acid. The data suggest that the stereoselective metabolism of DL-carnitine is probably the result of differential permeability of the cell membrane towards the optical antipodes.

MeSH terms

  • Acinetobacter calcoaceticus / genetics
  • Acinetobacter calcoaceticus / growth & development
  • Acinetobacter calcoaceticus / metabolism*
  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Carnitine / chemistry
  • Carnitine / isolation & purification*
  • Carnitine / metabolism
  • Kinetics
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Radioisotope Dilution Technique
  • Stereoisomerism
  • Time Factors


  • Carbon Radioisotopes
  • Carnitine