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l-carnitine: Structure and Function

  1. Jean Demarquoy

Published Online: 17 JAN 2011

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0023200



How to Cite

Demarquoy, J. 2011. l-carnitine: Structure and Function. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. Université de Bourgogne, Inserm UMR 866, Laboratoire de Biochimie Métabolique et Nutritionnelle, Dijon, France

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 JAN 2011


l-carnitine is found in nearly all living cells. l-carnitine present in human body can be either provided by a biosynthetic pathway or by food. Carnitine plays a major role in lipid and energy metabolism. In the human body, the primary role of l-carnitine is to shuttle long-chain fatty acids into the mitochondria where they are used to produce energy. l-carnitine is also involved in the peroxisomal oxidative metabolism and serves as a cofactor for various enzymatic reactions. Several reports suggest that l-carnitine may act as an anti-oxidant agent and limit the deleterious effects of free radicals. Many studies have estimated the role and the potential effectiveness of l-carnitine in various physiological and pathophysiological states such as physical exercise, heart disease, aging, weight management and brain function. A deficiency in l-carnitine has marked effects on the function of skeletal muscle, heart and nervous cells.

Key Concepts:

  • Carnitine is a cofactor for many enzymatic reactions.

  • Carnitine regulates various physiological functions.

  • Carnitine may limit ROS attack.


  • l-carnitine;
  • lipid metabolism;
  • mitochondria;
  • peroxisome;
  • muscle;
  • physiology;
  • nutrition