INTRODUCTION: There is evidence that both carnitine and coenzyme Q 10 (Co Q), which are important for the functioning of myocardial mitochondria, are deficient in patients with congestive heart failure, in association with increased pro-inflammatory cytokines. It is possible that supplementation with ubiquinol and L-carnitine may protect these patients by decreasing inflammation. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the effects of carni Q-gel (2250 mg/d L-carnitine and 270 mg/d hydrosoluble ubiquinol) were examined for 12 weeks. Thirty-one patients with heart failure received intervention (group A) and another 31 patients served as controls (group B). Serum levels of interleukin (IL)-6, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha and IL-10 could be studied among 29 patients in each group. Statistical analysis was conducted by analysis of variance and chi square test. RESULTS: Echocardiographic ejection fractions were lower at baseline (38.8 + 7.6 vs. 39.3 + 6.7% in the intervention and control groups, respectively) among both group of patients, indicating class II-IV heart failure. Serum concentration of interleukin-6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory cytokine, was high (18.7 +/- 5.8 vs. 15.0 +/- 3.3 pg/ml, normal 0.0-3.9) and IL-10 (anti-inflammatory) was normal (3.4 +/- 1.5 vs. 2.9 +/- 1.0 pg/ml, the normal range is 1.5-3.1 pg/ml) in both groups at baseline. After 12 weeks, there was a marked reduction in IL-6 in the intervention group without such changes in the control group (7.6 +/- 1.5 vs. 11.4 +/- 2.5 pg/ml, P < 0.01. IL-10 showed only the non-significant decrease in both groups from the baseline levels (3.2 +/- 1.0 vs. 2.8 +/- 0.9 pg/ml). TNF-alpha, which was comparable at baseline (17.6 +/- 4.3 vs. 20.0 +/- 5.3 pg/ml), also showed a greater decline in the carni Q-gel group compared to the placebo group (12.5 +/- 3.3 vs. 17.2 +/- 3.2 pg/ml, P < 0.05). Baseline serum CoQ levels (0.21 +/- 0.11 vs. 0.19 +/- 0.10 microg/ml) were low; however, after 12 weeks, serum CoQ showed a significant increase in the carni Q-gel group as compared to the control group (2.7 +/- 1.2 and 0.76 +/- 0.14 microg/ml, respectively). After 12 weeks of treatment, the quality of life visual analogous scale revealed that dyspnoea, palpitation and fatigue, (NYHA class II-III-IV), which were present at rest in all patients at baseline, showed beneficial effects in the intervention group compared to the placebo group. The six-minute walk test showed that there was a significant greater benefit in walking, from the baseline distance in the intervention group (208 +/- 15.8 vs. 281 +/- 20.6 metres, P < 0.02) compared to the placebo group (218.4 +/- 17.6 vs. 260.7 +/- 19.3 metres, P < 0.05). The symptom scale indicated that the majority of patients showed improvement in the intervention group compared to the control group (28 vs. 16 patients, respectively, P < 0.05). Three patients in the intervention group had nausea and vomiting, which were controlled with symptomatic treatment. CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that treatment with ubiquinol + L-carnitine can cause a significant reduction in the pro-inflammatory cytokines that are neurohumoural precursors related to sympathetic and parasympathetic activity, which is impaired in patients with heart failure. There was no adverse effect on IL-10. There was a significant improvement in quality of life as well as decrease in NYHA-defined heart failure.
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