Primary sensory neuronal rescue with systemic acetyl-L-carnitine following peripheral axotomy. A dose-response analysis

Andrew D. H. Wilson, Andrew Hart, Thomas Brannstrom, Mikael Wiberg, Giorgio Terenghi

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45 Citations (Scopus)


The loss of a large proportion of primary sensory neurons after peripheral nerve axotomy is well documented. As a consequence of this loss, the innervation density attained on completion of regeneration will never be normal, regardless of how well the individual surviving neurons regenerate. Acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR), an endogenous peptide in man, has been demonstrated to protect sensory neurons, thereby avoiding loss after peripheral nerve injury. In this study we examined the dose-response effect of ALCAR on the primary sensory neurons in the rat dorsal root ganglia (DRG) 2 weeks after sciatic nerve axotomy. Six groups of adult rats (n=5) underwent unilateral sciatic nerve axotomy, without repair, followed by 2 weeks systemic treatment with one of five doses of ALCAR (range 0.5-50 mg/kg/day), or normal saline. L4 and L5 dorsal root ganglia were then harvested bilaterally and sensory neuronal cell counts obtained using the optical disector technique. ALCAR eliminated neuronal loss at higher doses (50 and 10 mg/kg/day), while lower doses did result in loss (12% at 5 mg/kg/day, p
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)732-739
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Plastic Surgery
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2003


  • Acetylcarnitine
  • Animals
  • Axotomy
  • Cell Count
  • Cell Death
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Ganglia, Spinal
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neurons, Afferent
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Sciatic Nerve

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