Acetyl-L-carnitine physical-chemical, metabolic, and therapeutic properties: Relevance for its mode of action in Alzheimer's disease and geriatric depression

J. W. Pettegrew, J. Levine, R. J. McClure

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    249 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) contains carnitine and acetyl moieties, both of which have neurobiological properties. Carnitine is important in the β-oxidation of fatty acids and the acetyl moiety can be used to maintain acetyl-CoA levels. Other reported neurobiological effects of ALCAR include modulation of: (1) brain energy and phospholipid metabolism; (2) cellular macromolecules, including neurotrophic factors and neurohormones; (3) synaptic morphology; and (4) synaptic transmission of multiple neurotransmitters. Potential molecular mechanisms of ALCAR activity include: (1) acetylation of -NH2 and -OH functional groups in amino acids and N terminal amino acids in peptides and proteins resulting in modification of their structure, dynamics, function and turnover; and (2) acting as a molecular chaperone to larger molecules resulting in a change in the structure, molecular dynamics, and function of the larger molecule. ALCAR is reported in double-blind controlled studies to have beneficial effects in major depressive disorders and Alzheimer's disease (AD), both of which are highly prevalent in the geriatric population.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)616-632
    Number of pages17
    JournalMolecular Psychiatry
    Volume5
    Issue number6
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2000

    Keywords

    • Acetyl-L-carnitine
    • Acetylation
    • Alzheimer's disease
    • Energy metabolism
    • Geriatric depression
    • Lipid metabolism
    • Membrane

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Molecular Biology
    • Psychiatry and Mental health
    • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

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