Propionyl-L-carnitine prevents renal function deterioration due to ischemia/reperfusion

Marilena Mister, Marina Noris, Jaroslaw Szymczuk, Nadia Azzollini, Sistiana Aiello, Mauro Abbate, Lech Trochimowicz, Elena Gaguardini, Arduino Arduini, Norberto Perico, Giuseppe Remuzzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Ischemia-reperfusion injury after organ transplantation is a major cause of delayed graft function. Prevention of post-transplant ischemia acute renal failure is still elusive. Methods. The present study was designed to examine whether propionyl-L-camitine, an acyl derivative of camitine involved in fatty acid oxidation pathway and adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP) generation of mitochondria, prevented renal function deterioration and structural injury induced by ischemia-reperfusion in an ex vivo rat model of isolated perfused kidney (IPK) preparation and in vivo in a model of syngeneic kidney transplantation. Results. In the model of ischemia (20 or 40 min)/reperfusion (90 or 70 min) in IPK, untreated kidneys showed a marked reduction of glomerular filtration rate (GFR) and renal perfusate flow (RPF) as compared to baseline, when perfusion was established by restoring effective perfusion pressure to 100 mm Hg. Exposure of kidneys to propionyl-L-carnitine before establishing the ischemia insult to tissue, largely prevented renal function impairment. Pre-exposure of ischemic kidneys to propionyl-L-carnitine largely reduced the percent of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), a cell injury marker, released into the perfusate after reperfusion as compared to untreated ischemic kidneys. Histologic findings showed very mild post-ischemic lesions in kidneys exposed to propionyl-L-carnitine as compared to untreated ischemic kidneys. Immunohistochemical detection of 4-hydroxynonenal protein adduct, a major product of lipid peroxidation, was very low in kidney infused with propionyl-L-carnitine and exposed to ischemia/reperfusion as compared to untreated ischemic kidneys. ATP levels were not affected by propionyl-L-carnitine treatment. Renal function of kidneys exposed for four hours to cold Belzer UW solution added with propionyl-L-carnitine and transplanted to binephrectomized recipients was largely preserved as compared to untreated ischemic grafts. Propionyl-L-carnitine almost completely prevented polymorphonuclear cell graft infiltration and reduced tubular injury at 16 hours post-transplant. Conclusions. These data indicate that propionyl-L-carnitine is of value in preventing decline of renal function that occurs during ischemia-reperfusion. The beneficial effect of propionylL-carnitine possibly relates to lowering lipid peroxidation and free radical generation that eventually results in the preservation of tubular cell structure. The efficacy of propionyl-L-carnitine to modulate ischemia-reperfusion injury in these models opens new perspectives for preventing post-transplant delayed graft function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1064-1078
Number of pages15
JournalKidney International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Acute renal failure
  • Cold organ storage
  • Delayed graft function
  • Ischemia/reperfusion injury
  • Isolated perfused rat kidney
  • Kidney transplant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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