Endocrinology and Metabolism

Altered carnitine metabolism in spontaneously hypertensive rats

K. A. Foster, B. O'Rourke, D. K. Reibel


Carnitine metabolism was examined in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). Carnitine levels were elevated by 25% in hypertrophied hearts of 10- and 15-wk-old SHR when compared with Wistar-Kyoto (WKy) controls. This elevation was associated with a greater than 25% increase in total serum carnitine. The elevated serum carnitine does not appear to be due to increased mobilization from skeletal muscle because carnitine levels were elevated by 25% in gastrocnemius and diaphragm of SHR. Elevated serum carnitine is also not a result of reduced urinary excretion because daily urinary carnitine output was increased by 150% in SHR. These findings suggest that the most likely mechanism for increased serum carnitine is increased carnitine synthesis by the liver. The changes in carnitine metabolism in SHR appear to occur between 5 and 10 wk of age, because the carnitine levels in serum and organs were comparable in 5-wk-old WKy and SHR. The observed alterations in tissue and serum carnitine levels may result in altered fatty acid utilization in SHR.