L-carnitine ameliorates cancer cachexia in mice by regulating the expression and activity of carnitine palmityl transferase.Cancer Biol Ther. 2011 Jul 15; 12(2):125-30.CB
Cancer cachexia is characterized by progressive weight loss with the depletion of adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. Impaired fatty acid oxidation mainly resulting from the decrease of carnitine palmitoyltransferase I and II activities in the liver is an important factor that contributes to cancer cachexia . Although recent studies suggest a potential application of L-carnitine in treatment of cancer cachexia, the underlying mechanisms are unknown. In the present study, we aim to assess the effects of L-carnitine on the activity and expression of CPT I and II in the liver of cachectic cancer mice. Our results show that the inoculation of colon-26 adenocarcinoma cells into mice led to cancer cachexia characterized by notable decreases in food intake, gastrocnemius muscle and epididymus fat weight. In addition, the mRNA level and activity of liver carnitine palmitoyltransferase (CPT) I and II, and serum levels of free carnitine and acetylcarnitine were markedly decreased in cachectic mice, accompanied by marked increases in serum levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). A continuous oral treatment with L-carnitine at 18 mg/kg per day increased dietary uptake, gastrocnemius muscle weight and epididymus fat weight, increased blood glucose and serum albumin levels, and decreased total cholesterol level in cancer cachectic mice, but did not affect tumor growth. These effects of L-carnitine on cancer cachexia mice were accompanied by the upregulation of mRNA level of CPT I and II and increased enzyme activity of CPT I in the liver, as well as the downregulation of serum TNF-α and IL-6 levels. Moreover, free carnitine levels were negatively correlated with serum TNF-α or IL-6 level. These results indicate that L-carnitine ameliorates cancer cachexia by regulating serum TNF-α and IL-6 levels and modulating the expression and activity of CPT in the liver.