L-Carnitine supplementation a possible solution to cancer-related fatigue: Japan study

By Cheryl Tay contact

- Last updated on GMT

LC deficiency has been linked to weakness or general fatigue, and is often experienced by cancer patients during chemotherapy. ©Getty Images
LC deficiency has been linked to weakness or general fatigue, and is often experienced by cancer patients during chemotherapy. ©Getty Images

Related tags: Cancer

L-Carnitine (LC) supplementation may reduce overall fatigue in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, say researchers in Japan.

Fatigue is common amongst cancer patients on chemotherapy, and LC is crucial to the metabolism of fatty acids. LC deficiency has been linked to weakness or general fatigue, and is often experienced by cancer patients during chemotherapy.

Researchers at the Hokkaido Social Work Association Obihiro Hospital, Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, and National Defense Medical College therefore conducted a study to assess the efficacy of LC supplementation in treating general fatigue in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.

Positive change all around

They recruited 11 cancer patients suffering from general fatigue while receiving chemotherapy between September 2014 and December 2015, and gave each patient 1,500mg of levocarnitine per os daily, assessing the change in mean daily fatigue from baseline to eight weeks.

They also evaluated the change in plasma levels of albumin and lymphocyte counts from baseline to eight weeks, and found that LC supplementation had reduced fatigue in all the cases.

In addition, LC supplementation "maintained the plasma levels of albumin and lymphocyte counts during chemotherapy, and enabled patients to continue chemotherapy sequentially without dose reduction"​.

They added: "This treatment may make improve the tolerability of chemotherapy in cancer patients by reducing general fatigue and improving the nutritional status."

They also observed that LC supplementation helped to prevent skeletal muscle loss under pathological conditions, and hypothesised that this could explain LC’s anti-catabolic properties, "and / or the improvement of fatigue-related parameters following LC supplementation in patients with chronic kidney disease, cancer, and hepatitis C and hepatic encephalopathy"​.

Limitations and plans

They stated that the present study's limitations included its single-institution, non-randomised design, limited number of patients assessed, and the fact that carnitine levels in the plasma were not taken into account.

They concluded: "Despite these limitations, our findings may provide evidence to support the efficacy of LC supplementation in controlling cancer-related fatigue.

"However, further research is required to confirm our findings. A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial is currently being planned to demonstrate the efficacy of LC supplementation, based on previously published LC supplementation articles."

 

Source: Molecular and Clinical Oncology

https://doi.org/10.3892/mco.2018.1557

"L-Carnitine supplementation reduces the general fatigue of cancer patients during chemotherapy"

Authors: Hiroki Matsui, et al.

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