Regulation of carbohydrate and fatty acid utilization by L-carnitine during cardiac development and hypoxia

Salah Abdel-aleem, James St Louis, Steven C. Hendrickson, Hesham M. El-Shewy, Khalifa El-Dawy, Doris A. Taylor, James E. Lowe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This study is designed to investigate whether substrate preference in the myocardium during the neonatal period and hypoxia-induced stress is controlled intracellularly or by extracellular substrate availability. To determine this, the effect of exogenous L-carnitine on the regulation of carbohydrate and fatty acid metabolism was determined during cardiac stress (hypoxia) and during the postnatal period. The effect of L-carnitine on long chain (palmitate) and medium chain (octonoate) fatty acid oxidation was studied in cardiac myocytes isolated from less than 24 h old (new born; NB), 2 week old (2 week) and hypoxic 4 week old (HY) piglets. Palmitate oxidation was severely decreased in NB cells compared to those from 2 week animals (0.456 ± 0.04 vs. 1.207 ± 0.52 nmol/mg protein/30 min); surprisingly, cells from even older hypoxic animals appeared shifted toward the new born state (0.695 ± 0.038 nmol/mg protein/30 min). Addition of L-carnitine to the incubation medium, which stimulates carnitine palmitoyl-transferase I (CPTI) accelerated palmitate oxidation 3 fold in NB and approximately 2 fold in HY and 2 week cells. In contrast, octanoate oxidation which was greater in new born myocytes than in 2 week cells, was decreased by L-carnitine suggesting a compensatory response. Furthermore, oxidation of carbohydrates (glucose, pyruvate, and lactate) was greatly increased in new born myocytes compared to 2 week and HY cells and was accompanied by a parallel increase in pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDH) activity. The concentration of malonyl-CoA, a potent inhibitor of CPTI was significantly higher in new born heart than at 2 weeks. These metabolic data taken together suggest that intracellular metabolic signals interact to shift from carbohydrate to fatty acid utilization during development of the myocardium. The decreased oxidation of palmitate in NB hearts probably reflects decreased intracellular L-carnitine and increased malonyl-CoA concentrations. Interestingly, these data further suggest that the cells remain compliant so that under stressful conditions, such as hypoxia, they can revert toward the neonatal state of increased glucose utilization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-103
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biochemistry
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Fatty acid oxidation
  • Glucose oxidation
  • Hypoxia
  • L-carnitine
  • Neonatal metabolism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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