Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC), an activator of carnitine, can accelerate nerve regeneration after experimental surgical injury in rats. In this study, we examined the ability of ALC to improve nerve conduction velocity and its effect on intravenous glucose tolerance test in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Diabetic (blood glucose > 200 mg%) and normal animals were treated intraperitoneally for four weeks with ALC, 50 mg/Kg/d and 150 mg/Kg/d. Nerve conduction velocity was measured by direct exposure of sural nerve. Two-hour IVGTT was studied by measuring plasma glucose, insulin and free fatty acids after intravenous injection of glucose, 1.75 gm/Kg/body weight in animals treated either with ALC 150 mg/Kg/d or saline alone. Six weeks of STZ-induced diabetes resulted in impairment of nerve conduction velocity in animals injected with saline (16.05 ± 1.09 m/s), as compared to saline-treated normals who did not receive streptozotocin (31.9 ± 0.84 m/s, p<0.0005). Diabetic animals treated with ALC, 150 mg/Kg/d, preserved near normal nerve conduction (27.10±1.42 m/s), compared with the saline-treated diabetic animals (p<0.0005), but diabetic animals treated with ALC, 50 mg/Kg/d, had a non-significant increase in nerve conduction (23.68±1.6). ALC treatment had no effect on fasting or post-intravenous plasma glucose in normal or diabetic rats, although it moderately reduced baseline and 40 minute insulin levels (p<0.02) in normal rats as compared with their saline- treated counterparts. ALC treatment lowered baseline free fatty acids in normal (p<0.04) and diabetic (p<0.03) animals, and the 60 minute levels in the normal group only (p<0.003). Conclusion: ALC at a dose of 150 mg/Kg/d given for one month, produced near normalization of nerve conduction velocity in streptozotocin-induced diabetes with no adverse effects on glucose, insulin or free fatty acid levels.
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