What effect does L-carnitine have on Stem cells?

Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are multipotent cells showing potential for use in regenerative medicine. Culture techniques that are more stable and methods for the more efficient production of MSCs with therapeutic efficacy are needed. 

A study by Koichi Fujisawa, et al, evaluated the effects of growing bone marrow (Bm)-derived MSCs in the presence of L-carnitine, which is believed to promote lipid metabolism and to suppress apoptosis.

L-carnitine is an amino acid derivative that transports fatty acids into your cells to be processed for energy. It is synthesized in the livel from lysine and methionine through a process that requires vitamin C, iron, niacin and other molecules. It is absorbed in large quantities from the diet and accumulates mainly in the muscles and is a widely taken supplement, even in the absence of any deficiency. 

Carnitine has previously been shown to be useful for treating fatty liver because it promotes fatty acid β-oxidation. It is also thought to be a valuable antioxidant and can inhibit oxidative stress associated with cardiomyopathy, the mitochondrial membrane-permeability transition and pro-apoptotic proteins.

The researchers of the same study found that carnitine suppresses apoptosis, inhibits adipogenic differentiation and osteoblastic differentiation.  With the objective of more efficient BmMSC preparation in vitro, higher concentrations than those in vivo measured can probably be used with few problems, although further research on considerations such as safety will be required in the future.

In this study, the addition of L-carnitine significantly decreased the levels of many saturated and unsaturated long-chain fatty acids. Also, administration of L-carnitine has previously been associated with the restoration of mitochondria and the suppression of the induction of senescence by TGF-B, suggesting that L-carnitine is involved in mitochondrial activation and senescence.

They confirmed that L-carnitine suppresses apoptosis in BmMSCs which provides important information for the preparation of the MSCs needed to perform regenerative medical procedures in the future with a better control of the quality of the cells. 

Source: Fujisawa K, Takami T, Fukui Y, Quintanilha LF, Matsumoto T, Yamamoto N, Sakaida I. Evaluating effects of L-carnitine on human bone-marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells. Cell Tissue Res. 2017 May;368(2):301-310.