The purpose of this investigation was to describe the dynamics of carnitine metabolism during an acute episode of exercise. Twenty-eight subjects (14 male; 14 female) exercised for 40 min on a bicycle ergometer at 55% of their maximal aerobic capacities. Blood samples were obtained at rest, 10, 20, 30, and 40 min of exercise, and 15-min postexercise. Muscle biopsies of the vastus lateralis were performed before and after exercise. Results demonstrated that the percent of acylated plasma carnitine increased significantly (P less than 0.05) across all subjects from 17.3% at rest to 22.3% by 40 min of exercise and continued to increase to 22.8% 15-min postexercise. Total muscle carnitine levels fell significantly (P less than 0.001) across all subjects from 4.21 (1.27) (means +/- SD) mumol/g wet weight at rest to 3.29 (1.27) mumol/g wet weight after exercise. Well-trained males and females had almost identical levels of muscle carnitine [4.35(1.86) and 4.34 (0.64) mumol/g wet weight, respectively]. These levels were somewhat higher but not significantly higher than their moderately trained counterparts [3.86(1.34) and 4.28(1.18) males and females, respectively]. Carnitine palmitoyl transferase (E.C. 22.214.171.124) activity also declined significantly (P less than 0.05) across all subjects after exercise. This study is the first to demonstrate a potential loss of acylated carnitine forms from muscle to plasma during acute exercise, possibly reflecting an increase in carnitine turnover. Alterations in carnitine status may represent another metabolic adaptation to chronic exercise training.
- Copyright © 1983 the American Physiological Society