Carnitine/lipoate slows cardiac cellular aging

It’s apparently time for another nutraceutical update. Following up on last year’s news that carnitine/lipoic acid supplementation can prevent age-related decline in cardiac respiratory activity, a new study from Savitha et al. demonstrates that the same compounds slow the accumulation of lipofuscins (“age pigments”) and monoamine oxidase activity in the heart:

Carnitine and lipoate ameliorates lipofuscin accumulation and monoamine oxidase activity in aged rat heart

In this study we have focused on the levels of lipofuscin, monoamine oxidase and cholesterol phospholipid ratio in the heart muscle of young, middle aged and aged rats. In parallel, we have also investigated the levels of carnitine and lipoic acid during aging. We observed an increase in lipofuscin accumulation and monoamine oxidase activity in both middle aged and aged rats. Levels of both carnitine and lipoic acid decreased along with a decrease in cholesterol phospholipid ratio. These changes were normalized upon cosupplementation of carnitine and lipoic acid. Our results thus reveal that carnitine along with lipoic acid can be used as an effective supplement against free radical induced damage to the cardiac tissue.

Qualifier: while both compounds are fairly innocuous natural products (carnitine is a nonessential amino acid involved in acetyl transfer to mitochondria, and lipoic acid is a fat-soluble antioxidant), and even quite high levels are unlikely to be harmful, the doses used in this study were unrealistically gigantic even by the loose standards of nutraceutical studies: The rats were fed the average-human-male equivalent of ~20 grams of carnitine and ~7 grams of lipoate per diem, quantities that would likely cause a human subject to reek of dead fish. No word from the authors on how the rats smelled.

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