L-Carnitine has a liver-protective effect through inhibition of inducible nitric oxide synthase induction in primary cultured rat hepatocytes

Yusuke Nakamura, Hiroya Iida, Richi Nakatake, Tatsuma Sakaguchi, Masaki Kaibori, Tadayoshi Okumura, Yoshinori Hamada, Takashi Doi

Abstract


Background: L-Carnitine has protective effects on various injured organs. However, it has not been reported whether L-carnitine influences the induction of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression during inflammation. Nitric oxide (NO) produced by iNOS is an inflammatory indicator in organs which become inflamed, including the liver.

Objective: This study aimed to examine whether L-carnitine influences the induction of iNOS gene expression in inflammatory cytokine-stimulated hepatocytes and the mechanisms involved in the action. 

Methods: L-Carnitine was added into the primary cultures of rat hepatocytes stimulated by interleukin-1β (an in vitro liver injury model). The production of NO and induction of iNOS and its signaling pathway were analyzed.

Results: Transfection experiments with iNOS promoter-luciferase constructs revealed how L-carnitine inhibited iNOS mRNA synthesis activity and reduced its stability. In support of this observation, L-carnitine reduced iNOS mRNA and iNOS protein expression levels, resulting in reduced NO production. L-Carnitine blocked two essential pathways for iNOS induction: IκB kinase (IκB degradation/NF-κB activation) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt (type I IL-1 receptor upregulation).

Conclusions: L-Carnitine inhibited the induction of inflammatory mediator iNOS, partially through inhibition of NF-κB activation, which demonstrated L-carnitine has protective effects in an in vitro liver injury model. L-Carnitine may have therapeutic potential for organ injuries, including the liver.

Keywords: L-carnitine, hepatic encephalopathy, inducible nitric oxide synthase, liver injury, primary cultured hepatocytes, nuclear factor-κB, type I interleukin-1 receptor 


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