Potential benefits of carnitine in HIV-positive patients


Carnitine is a nonessential amino acid that has a central role in lipid peroxidation and mitochondrial metabolism. Carnitine deficiency is rare in adult human subjects who have a normal diet and no underlying chronic diseases. Studies have shown that HIV-infected patients are at increased risk of carnitine deficiency due to decreased intake, increased metabolism, gastrointestinal problems, HIV infection itself, concomitant infections, underlying disease, concomitant drugs and antiretroviral therapy. Decreased serum and muscle carnitine content was reported following antiretroviral therapy in HIV-positive patients. The beneficial effects of carnitine on the human immune system, such as prevention of CD4 cell apoptosis, was reported in these patients. Additionally, polyneuropathy, myopathy, lactic acidosis, dyslipidemia and lipodystrophy are complications of antiretroviral therapy that have been proposed to potentially be related to carnitine deficiency and mitochondrial dysfunction. Carnitine may have a significant role in improving some aspects of mitochondrial toxicity induced by an antiretroviral regimen, such as lipodystrophy. Also, there are nearly sufficient data to support the beneficial effects of carnitine in improving the symptoms of lactic acidosis following antiretroviral therapy. According to available data, it is concluded that carnitine may have beneficial effects in the treatment of antiretroviral-induced neuropathy. Most of the evidence supports carnitine supplementation as a treatment strategy rather than prophylaxis for antiretroviralinduced complications. Several studies have shown the prevalence of carnitine deficiency and its role in different aspects of infection and antiretroviral-induced complications in HIV-positive patients, but the probable beneficial effects of carnitine supplementation are not clear in this population. In this review, we have collected and categorized available evidence regarding the potential benefits of carnitine supplementation in HIV-infected individuals.


Rezaee H, Khalili H, Salamzadeh J, Jafari S, Abdollahi A.




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Co-morbidities
    • Other


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