Amino Acids

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Carnosine supplementation reduces plasma soluble transferrin receptor in healthy overweight or obese individuals: a pilot randomised trial

  • Estifanos Baye
  • Jozef Ukropec
  • Maximilian P. J. de Courten
  • Timea Kurdiova
  • Patrick Krumpolec
  • José-Manuel Fernández-Real
  • Giancarlo Aldini
  • Barbara Ukropcova
  • Barbora de CourtenEmail author
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Carnosine


Abnormalities of iron homeostasis have been linked to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Carnosine, an over-the-counter food supplement with chelating properties, has been shown to decrease serum iron and improve glucose metabolism in diabetic rodents. We have previously demonstrated that carnosine supplementation prevented worsening of glucose metabolism in healthy overweight and obese middle-aged adults. Yet, the impact of carnosine on markers of iron metabolism in humans has not been investigated. We aimed to determine whether carnosine supplementation has an effect on iron parameters in overweight and obese, otherwise healthy adults. We included 26 participants, who were randomly allocated to receive 1 g carnosine (n = 14) or identical placebo (n = 12) twice daily for 12 weeks. Iron parameters including iron, ferritin, transferrin, soluble transferrin receptor, total iron binding capacity and iron saturation were measured in serum or plasma by standard commercial assays. Carnosine supplementation decreased plasma soluble transferrin receptor compared to placebo (mean change difference ± standard error: − 0.07 ± 0.03 mg/l, p = 0.04). None of the other iron parameters were different between carnosine and placebo groups. At follow-up, soluble transferrin receptor was associated inversely with urinary carnosine concentrations and positively with serum carnosinase-1 activity (both p < 0.02). Our findings suggest that carnosine may modulate iron metabolism in high-risk groups which could ameliorate insulin resistance and prevent type 2 diabetes. Larger human clinical trials are required to confirm our results.


Iron metabolism Soluble transferrin receptor Carnosine Insulin resistance Type 2 diabetes 



We thank the volunteers for their participation in the trial. We also thank Professor Wim Derave for performing the carnosinase measurements. This study was supported by the Grant Agency of the Slovak Academy of Sciences VEGA 2/0107/18, Slovak Research and Development Agency SRDA (APVV) 15/0253, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Diabetes Australia Research Trust and Foundation for High Blood Pressure Research. Carnosine supplement was received from Flamma SPa, Italy. EB is a recipient of the Monash Graduate and Monash International Postgraduate Scholarships. BdC is supported by a National Heart Foundation Future Leader Fellowship (100864).

Author contributions

EB conceived the study idea, performed data analysis and interpretation, wrote first draft of the manuscript and revised subsequent drafts until publication. BdC designed the study, contributed to the study idea and data analysis, and critically reviewed the manuscript. MPJdC co-designed the study with BdC and contributed to the review of the manuscript. JU & BU assisted with design of the study, performed all clinical measurement and contributed to review of the manuscript. TK & PK contributed to the clinical study performance and data collection. JMFR contributed to review of the manuscript. GA performed to laboratory measurement and reviewed the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Estifanos Baye
    • 1
  • Jozef Ukropec
    • 2
  • Maximilian P. J. de Courten
    • 3
  • Timea Kurdiova
    • 2
  • Patrick Krumpolec
    • 2
  • José-Manuel Fernández-Real
    • 4
  • Giancarlo Aldini
    • 5
  • Barbara Ukropcova
    • 2
    • 6
    • 7
  • Barbora de Courten
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Monash Centre for Health Research and Implementation, School of Public Health and Preventive MedicineMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Experimental Endocrinology, Biomedical Research CentreSlovak Academy of SciencesBratislavaSlovakia
  3. 3.Centre for Chronic Disease, College of Health and BiomedicineVictoria UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Diabetes, Endocrinology and NutritionBiomedical Research Institute of Girona (IDIBGI)GironaSpain
  5. 5.Department of Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly
  6. 6.Institute of Pathological Physiology, Faculty of MedicineComenius UniversityBratislavaSlovakia
  7. 7.Faculty of Physical Education and SportsComenius UniversityBratislavaSlovakia

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