OBJECTIVE: This 12-week study of two elderly, depressed subjects investigated the effect of acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) treatment on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) and on measures of high-energy phosphate and membrane phospholipid metabolism. METHODS: Two mildly depressed (HDRS 15-20), non-demented male subjects 70 and 80 years old were compared with six non-demented controls (all males, mean age of 73.6 +/- 3.6 years). High-energy and membrane phospholipid metabolites were measured by phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (31P MRSI) analysis. HDRS and 31P MRSI measurements were taken at entry, 6 and 12 weeks for the depressed subjects. RESULTS: 31P MRSI analysis revealed elevated levels of phosphomonesters [PME(s - tau(c))] in the prefrontal region of these mildly depressed subjects, which decreased with ALCAR treatment and showed a trend for correlation of the PME(s - tau(c)) levels with HDRS. ALCAR treatment also resulted in increasing levels of the prefrontal phosphocreatine (PCr), which correlated with HDRS. CONCLUSIONS: In the prefrontal region, the mildly depressed subjects compared with controls had elevated PME(s - tau(c)) levels which normalized after 12 weeks of ALCAR and increased PCr levels after ALCAR treatment. These preliminary findings suggest further studies are warranted.
Pettegrew JW, Levine J, Gershon S, Stanley JA, Servan-Schreiber D, Panchalingam K, McClure RJ. 31P-MRS study of acetyl-L-carnitine treatment in geriatric depression: preliminary results. Bipolar Disord. 2002 February Neurophysics Laboratory, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.