Reduced plasma and tissue concentrations of carnitine, a cofactor required for fatty acid oxidation, are present in patients with inherited disorders of mitochondrial acyl-CoA oxidation that are associated with accumulations of acylcarnitines. To determine whether the secondary carnitine deficiency in these patients is due to excessive urinary loss of acylcarnitines, the development of carnitine deficiency was examined in patients with four different acyl-CoA oxidation disorders, including medium-chain and long-chain fatty acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiencies, isovaleric acidemia, and propionic acidemia. After a 3-mo period of treatment with oral carnitine to raise plasma total carnitine concentrations to or above normal, patients were started on a carnitine-free diet and the changes in plasma total and free carnitine levels and urinary total and free carnitine excretion were followed for 5 d. Patients with all four disorders showed a return of plasma carnitine levels and urinary carnitine excretion to baseline within 2 to 4 d. The rapidity of these changes could not be explained solely by excessive acylcarnitine wasting. Continued excretion of free carnitine in all patients indicated the additional presence of an impairment in renal transport of free carnitine. Consistent with this interpretation, estimates of renal thresholds for free carnitine gave values that were less than that for a control child in all four disorders and ranged as low as one half those reported in normal individuals. These results suggest that secondary carnitine deficiency in the acyl-CoA oxidation disorders is due to indirect as well as direct effects of accumulated acylcarnitines. Lowered renal free carnitine thresholds in these patients may reflect inhibition of free carnitine transport in the kidney by acylcarnitines.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health