Mitochondria in the elderly: Is acetylcarnitine a rejuvenator?

Mariana G. Rosca, Hélène Lemieux, Charles L. Hoppel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


Endogenous acetylcarnitine is an indicator of acetyl-CoA synthesized by multiple metabolic pathways involving carbohydrates, amino acids, fatty acids, sterols, and ketone bodies, and utilized mainly by the tricarboxylic acid cycle. Acetylcarnitine supplementation has beneficial effects in elderly animals and humans, including restoration of mitochondrial content and function. These effects appear to be dose-dependent and occur even after short-term therapy. In order to set the stage for understanding the mechanism of action of acetylcarnitine, we review the metabolism and role of this compound. We suggest that acetylation of mitochondrial proteins leads to a specific increase in mitochondrial gene expression and mitochondrial protein synthesis. In the aged rat heart, this effect is translated to increased cytochrome b content, restoration of complex III activity, and oxidative phosphorylation, resulting in amelioration of the age-related mitochondrial defect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1332-1342
Number of pages11
JournalAdvanced Drug Delivery Reviews
Issue number14
StatePublished - Nov 30 2009


  • Acetyl-CoA
  • Aging
  • Complex III
  • Electron transport chain complexes
  • Mitochondrial biogenesis
  • Mitochondrial metabolism
  • Mitochondrial proteins


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