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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Dietary L-carnitine improves nitrogen utilization in growing pigs fed low energy, fat-containing diets.

Growing pigs (n = 25; 17.8 +/- 0.1 kg) were used to study the effects of L-carnitine and protein intake on nitrogen (N) balance and body composition. Fat-supplemented (40 g soy oil/kg diet), corn-soybean meal basal diets containing low or high protein (136 or 180 g/diet) were formulated so that protein accretion would be limited by metabolizable energy (ME). Each basal diet was supplemented with 0 or 500 mg/kg L-carnitine and fed to pigs for 10 d in a nutrient balance trial. Final body composition was compared with weight and age-matched pigs measured on d 0 to calculate nutrient accretion rates. High protein feeding increased (P < 0.01) average daily gain (ADG) by 34%, as well as nitrogen digestibility (4.4%), retention (5.2%), urinary excretion (29%) and crude protein (CP) accretion (33%). Total-body carnitine accretion rate was 4.5 fold greater and total body carnitine concentration was almost 100% greater than in unsupplemented controls (P < 0.01). Irrespective of protein level, carnitine increased ADG (by 7.3%, P < 0.10) and CP accretion rate (9%, P < 0.10). Congruently, carnitine supplementation improved the efficiency of nitrogen retention (P < 0. 05) and reduced urinary nitrogen excretion (14%, P < 0.10). Carcass fat content also was reduced in carnitine-supplemented pigs (P < 0. 10). Collectively, these data support the hypothesis that carnitine can improve the efficiency of nitrogen utilization in 20-kg pigs fed energy-limited, fat-containing diets. We conclude that endogenous carnitine biosynthesis may be adequate to maintain sufficient tissue levels during growth, but that supplemental dietary carnitine (at 500 mg/kg) may be retained sufficiently so as to alter nutrient partitioning and thus body composition of 20-kg pigs.[1]


  1. Dietary L-carnitine improves nitrogen utilization in growing pigs fed low energy, fat-containing diets. Heo, K., Odle, J., Han, I.K., Cho, W., Seo, S., van Heugten, E., Pilkington, D.H. J. Nutr. (2000) [Pubmed]
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