Action of L-acetylcarnitine on different cerebral mitochondrial populations from cerebral cortex

Neurochem Res. 1998 Dec;23(12):1485-91. doi: 10.1023/a:1020907400905.


The maximum rate (Vmax) of some mitochondrial enzymatic activities related to the energy transduction (citrate synthase, alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase, succinate dehydrogenase, malate dehydrogenase, cytochrome oxidase) and amino acid metabolism (glutamate dehydrogenase, glutamate-pyruvate-transaminase, glutamate-oxaloacetate-transaminase) was evaluated in non-synaptic (free) and intra-synaptic mitochondria from rat brain cerebral cortex. Three types of mitochondria were isolated from rats subjected to i.p. treatment with L-acetylcarnitine at two different doses (30 and 60, 28 days, 5 days/week). In control (vehicle-treated) animals, enzyme activities are differently expressed in non-synaptic mitochondria respect to intra-synaptic "light" and "heavy" ones. In fact, alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase, succinate dehydrogenase, malate dehydrogenase, glutamate-pyruvate-transaminase and glutamate-oxaloacetate-transaminase are lower, while citrate synthase, cytochrome oxidase and glutamate dehydrogenase are higher in intra-synaptic mitochondria than in non-synaptic ones. This confirms that in various types of brain mitochondria a different metabolic machinery exists, due to their location in vivo. Treatment with L-acetylcarnitine decreased citrate synthase and glutamate dehydrogenase activities, while increased cytochrome oxidase and alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase activities only in intra-synaptic mitochondria. Therefore in vivo administration of L-acetylcarnitine mainly affects some specific enzyme activities, suggesting a specific molecular trigger mode of action and only of the intra-synaptic mitochondria, suggesting a specific subcellular trigger site of action.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcarnitine / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / enzymology*
  • Citrate (si)-Synthase / metabolism
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glutamate Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Ketoglutarate Dehydrogenase Complex / metabolism
  • Mitochondria / enzymology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Synapses / enzymology


  • Acetylcarnitine
  • Ketoglutarate Dehydrogenase Complex
  • Glutamate Dehydrogenase
  • Electron Transport Complex IV
  • Citrate (si)-Synthase