L-carnitine and creatine in Friedreich’s ataxia. A randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial
Impaired oxidative phosphorylation is a crucial factor in the pathogenesis of Friedreich’s ataxia (FA). L-carnitine and creatine are natural compounds that can enhance cellular energy transduction. We performed a placebo-controlled triple-phase crossover trial of L-carnitine (3 g/d) and creatine (6.75 g/d) in 16 patients with genetically confirmed FA. Primary outcome measures were mitochondrial ATP production measured as phosphocreatine recovery by 31Phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy, neurological deficits assessed by the international co-operative ataxia rating scale and cardiac hypertrophy in echocardiography. After 4 months on L-carnitine phosphocreatine recovery was improved compared to baseline (p < 0.03, t-test) but comparison to placebo and creatine effects did not reach significance (p = 0.06, F-test). Ataxia rating scale and echocardiographic parameters remained unchanged. Creatine had no effect in FA patients. L-carnitine is a promising substance for the treatment of FA patients, and larger trials are warranted.
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