Acetyl-l-carnitine increases nerve regeneration and target organ reinnervation - a morphological study

Andrew D H Wilson, Andrew Hart, Mikael Wiberg, Giorgio Terenghi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Peripheral nerve injury frequently results in functional morbidity since standard management fails to adequately address many of the neurobiological hurdles to optimal regeneration. Neuronal survival and regeneration are neurotrophin dependent and require increased aerobic capacity. Acetyl-l-carnitine (ALCAR) facilitates this need and prevents neuronal loss. ALCAR is clinically safe and is shown here to significantly improve nerve regeneration and target organ reinnervation. Two groups of five rats underwent sciatic nerve division followed by immediate repair. One group received parenteral ALCAR (50mg/kg/day) from time of operation until termination at 12 weeks. A 'sham treatment' group received normal saline. A third group was left unoperated and did not receive any treatment. A segment of nerve was harvested between 5mm proximal and 10mm distal to the repair in operated groups, and at the corresponding level in the unoperated group. Mean axonal count in normal, non-axotomised nerve was 14,720 (SD 2378). That of the saline group (17,217 SD 1808) was not significantly different from normal nerve (P=0.0985). Mean number of myelinated axons in the ALCAR group (24,460 SD 3750) was significantly greater than both sham group (P
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1186-95
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • Acetylcarnitine
  • Animals
  • Axons
  • Hindlimb
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated
  • Nerve Regeneration
  • Organ Size
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sciatic Nerve
  • Skin
  • Vitamin B Complex

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