Abstract Title:

Supplementation with l-carnitine does not reduce the efficacy of epirubicin treatment in breast cancer cells.

Abstract Source:

Cancer Lett. 2007 Jul 18;252(2):195-207. Epub 2007 Feb 2. PMID: 17275999

Abstract Author(s):

Christie E Delaney, Sean P Hopkins, Christina L Addison

Article Affiliation:

Centre for Cancer Therapeutics, Ottawa Health Research Institute, 501 Smyth Road, 3rd Floor TOHRCC, Box 926, Ottawa, Ont., Canada K1H 8L6.


One of the cornerstones of therapy for invasive breast cancer includes the use of anthracyclines. Epirubicin, a stereoisomer of doxorubicin, is one of the commonly used anthracyclines. Anthracyclines while effective therapy for breast cancer, have their own unique toxicities, such as cardiomyopathy. l-Carnitine, a quarternary ammonium compound synthesized from methionine and lysine, is required for oxidative metabolism in mitochondria. Cardiac function is closely linked with oxidative metabolism whereby l-carnitine is an essential cofactor. A hypothesis is being investigated to determine if supplementation with carnitine in breast cancer patients treated with epirubicin will reduce the development of cardiac toxicity. We determined whether addition of l-carnitine altered the tumor cytotoxic effects of epirubicin using a number of in vitro cell viability assays in different breast cancer cell lines including BT549, MDA-MB-435, NCI-ADR-RES, MCF7 and T47D. Additionally we investigated the ability of cells to respond to l-carnitine following analysis of the expression of carnitine metabolic enzymes by RT-PCR. We determined that supplementation with l-carnitine had no effect on the ability of epirubicin to kill a variety of breast cancer cell lines. Additionally, no differences in the induction of apoptosis by epirubicin were observed. Furthermore, all cell lines examined expressed proteins required for carnitine uptake and use. Our data suggest that supplementation with l-carnitine does not impair the ability of epirubicin to kill breast cancer cells. These results suggest that supplementation with l-carnitine in patients undergoing epirubicin treatment could be safely used to reduce associated cardiotoxicities without fear that the efficacy of chemotherapy is jeopardized.

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