L-carnitine supplementation ameliorates insulin resistance in critically ill acute stroke patients: a randomized, double-blinded,placebo-controlled clinical trial

Malihe Nejati , Saeed Abbasi, Shadi Farsaei , Fatemeh Shafiee


Background and purpose: Insulin resistance (IR) can negatively affect clinical outcomes in acute ischemic stroke (IS) patients. Safe and cost-saving interventions are still needed to improve glycemic indices in this population. The primary objective was to evaluate L-carnitine (LC) effects in acute IS patients' homeostatic model assessment of IR (HOMA-IR).

Experimental approach: In this randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial, critically ill IS patients were allocated to receive daily oral L-carnitine (1.5 g) or a placebo for six days. Fasting serum levels of glucose, insulin, C-reactive protein, LC, and HOMA-IR were measured on days 1 and 7. Mechanical ventilation duration, ICU/hospital duration, illness severity score, sepsis, and death events were assessed.

Findings/Results: Forty-eight patients were allocated to the research groups, 24 patients in each group, and all were included in the final analysis. LC administration showed a decrease in mean difference of HOMA-IR and insulin levels at day 7 compared to placebo, -0.94 ± 1.92 vs 0.87 ± 2.24 (P = 0.01) and -2.26 ± 6.81 vs 0.88 ± 4.95 (P = 0.03), respectively. However, LC administration did not result in significant improvement in clinical outcomes compared to placebo. The short duration of intervention and low sample size limited our results. 

Conclusion and implication: Supplementation of L-carnitine improved HOMA-IR index in acute IS patients admitted to the critical care unit. Supplementation of LC would be a potential option to help to control IR in critically ill acute IS patients.



Keywords: Critical care; Insulin resistance, Ischemic stroke; L-carnitine, HOMA-IR, Hyperglycemia.

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