Mass spectrometric analysis of l-carnitine and its esters: Potential biomarkers of disturbances in carnitine homeostasis

Judit Bene, Andras Szabo, Katalin Komlósi, Bela Melegh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: After a golden age of classic carnitine research three decades ago, the spread of mass spectrometry opened new perspectives and a much better understanding of the carnitine system is available nowadays. In the classic period, several human and animal studies were focused on various distinct physiological functions of this molecule and these revealed different aspects of carnitine homeostasis in normal and pathological conditions. Initially, the laboratory analyses were based on the classic or radioenzymatic assays, enabling only the determination of free and total carnitine levels and calculation of total carnitine esters’ amount without any information on the composition of the acyl groups. The introduction of mass spectrometry allowed the measurement of free carnitine along with the specific and sensitive determination of different carnitine esters. Beyond basic research, mass spectrometry study of carnitine esters was introduced into the newborn screening program because of being capable to detect more than 30 metabolic disorders simultaneously. Furthermore, mass spectrometry measurements were performed to investigate different disease states affecting carnitine homeostasis, such as diabetes, chronic renal failure, celiac disease, cardiovascular diseases, autism spectrum disorder or inflammatory bowel diseases. Results: This article will review the recent advances in the field of carnitine research with respect to mass spectrometric analyses of acyl-carnitines in normal and various pathological states. Conclusion: The growing number of publications using mass spectrometry as a tool to investigate normal physiological conditions or reveal potential biomarkers of primary and secondary carnitine deficiencies shows that this tool brought a new perspective to carnitine research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-354
Number of pages19
JournalCurrent Molecular Medicine
Volume20
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2020

Keywords

  • Acylcarnitines
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Carnitine homeostasis
  • Chronic renal failure
  • Diabetes
  • L-carnitine
  • Mass spectrometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology

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