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Carnitine (Carnitor®)

By: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

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  • Levocarnitine (L-carnitine) is a naturally-occurring hydrophilic amino acid derivative synthesized from methionine and lysine in the kidneys and liver. Its name is derived from the fact that it was first isolated from meat (carnus) in 1905.
  • Carnitine is essential for the transfer of long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria for beta-oxidation and thus energy production. In skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle, fatty acids are the main substrates for energy.
  • Carnitine deficiency has been linked to dilated cardiomyopathy and lipid storage myopathies in dogs and humans.
  • Healthy animals generally synthesize enough L-carnitine to prevent deficiency.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This compound is registered for use in humans only.
  • Human formulations: Carnitor® (Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals, Inc).
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Uses of Carnitine

  • Adjunctive treatment of dilated cardiomyopathy in dogs.
  • Protection against doxorubicin-induced cardiomyopathy.
  • Adjunctive treatment of valproic acid toxicity.
  • Adjunctive treatment of feline hepatic lipidosis (controversial).

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • Gastrointestinal side effects are possible, especially when high doses are used.

    Drug Interactions

  • Treatment with valproic acid may lead to carnitine deficiency. Pivalic acid-containing antibiotics (used in Europe) may also produce secondary carnitine deficiency.

    How Carnitine is Supplied

  • Tablets: 330 mg
  • Oral solution: 1 g/10 mL multidose
  • Injection: 1 g/5 mL

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.

  • 50-100 mg/kg PO TID

  • 50-100 mg/kg/day PO

  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.

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