Determination of the reference range of endogenous plasma carnitines in healthy adults

This version was published on 1 November 2008

Ann Clin Biochem 2008;45:585-592
© 2008 Association for Clinical Biochemistry


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Original Articles

Stephanie E Reuter1,
Allan M Evans1,
Donald H Chace2 and
Gianfranco Fornasini3

1 Sansom Institute, University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia;
2 Pediatrix Screening, Bridgeville, PA, USA;
3 Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals Inc., Gaithersburg, MD, USA

Corresponding author: Prof Allan M Evans. Email: allan.evans{at}

Background: L-carnitine is an endogenous substance, vital in the transport of fatty acids across the inner mitochondrial membrane for oxidation. Disturbances in carnitine homeostasis can have a significant impact on human health; therefore, it is critical to define normal endogenous concentrations for L-carnitine and its estersto facilitate the diagnosis of carnitine deficiency disorders.This study was conducted to determine the normal concentrationsof a number of carnitines in healthy adults using three analyticalmethods. The impact of age and gender on carnitine concentrationswas also examined.

Methods: Blood samples were collected from 60 healthy subjects of bothgenders and various ages. Plasma samples were analysed for endogenouscarnitine concentrations by radioenzymatic assay, high-performanceliquid chromatography and electrospray tandem mass spectrometry.

Results: Precision and accuracy of results obtained for each assay were within acceptable limits. Average endogenous concentrations obtained from the three analytical methods in this study were in the range of 38–44, 6–7 and 49–50 µmol/L for L-carnitine, acetyl-L-carnitine and total carnitine, respectively. Comparison of results between the genders indicated that males had significantly higher endogenous plasma L-carnitine and totalcarnitine concentrations than females. Age was found to haveno impact on plasma carnitine concentrations.

Conclusion: These results are useful in the evaluation of biochemical ormetabolic disturbances and in the diagnosis and treatment ofpatients with carnitine deficiency.

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This article has been cited by other articles:

S. E. Reuter, R. J. Faull, E. Ranieri, and A. M. Evans
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March 1, 2009;
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