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Acetyl-L-carnitine is similar in form to the amino acidL-carnitine and also has some similar functions, such as being involved in the metabolism of food into energy.
The acetyl group that is part of acetyl-L-carnitine contributes to the production of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is required for mental function. Several double-blind clinical trials suggest that acetyl-L-carnitine delays the progression of Alzheimers disease and enhances overall performance in some people with Alzheimers disease. Alzheimers research has been done with the acetyl-L-carnitine form, rather than the L-carnitine form, of this nutrient.
One double-blind trial4 has found that acetyl-L-carnitine may be helpful for people with degenerative cerebellar ataxia, a loss of muscular coordination caused by disease in the cerebellum (the hind part of the brain that controls muscle tone and balance).
Where is it found? Acetyl-L-carnitine is a molecule that occurs naturally in the brain, liver, and kidney. It is also available as a dietary supplement.
1. Pettegrew JW, Klunk WE, Panchalingam K, et al. Clinical and neurochemical effects of acetyl-L-carnitine in Alzheimer�s disease. Neurobiol Aging 1995;16:1�4.
2. Sano M, Bell K, Cote L, et al. Double-blind parallel design pilot study of acetyl levocarnitine in patients with Alzheimer�s disease. Arch Neurol 1992;49:1137�41.
3. Cucinotta D, Passeri M, Ventura S, et al. Multicenter clinical placebo-controlled study with acetyl-L-carnitine (LAC) in the treatment of mildly demented elderly patients. Drug Development Res 1988;14:213�6.
4. Sorbi S, Forleo P, Fani C, Piacentini S. Double-blind, crossover, placebo-controlled clinical trial with L-acetylcarnitine in patients with degenerative cerebellar ataxia. Clin Neuropharmacol 2000;23:114�8.
5. No authors listed. Acetyl-L-Carnitine. Altern Med Rev 1999;4:438�41 [review].
6. Thal LJ, Carta A, Clarke WR, et al. A 1-year multicenter placebo-controlled study of acetyl-L-carnitine in patients with Alzheimer�s disease. Neurology 1996;47:705�11.
7. Rai G, Wright G, Scott L, et al. Double-blind, placebo controlled study of acetyl-L-carnitine in patients with Alzheimer�s dementia. Curr Med Res Opin 1990;11:638�47.