(author unknown)

Studies have shown that acetyl L-carnitine (ALC) can prevent some age-related memory impairment. A recent study, for example found that old rats given ALC had improved spatial memory.1 This experiment examined the effects of aging and ALC on the retention and acquisition of spatial discrimination in an unfamiliar environment, compared with a familiar environment. Old rats treated with ALC demonstrated enhanced spatial acquisition in the unfamiliar environment; ie, they could find a submerged platform more easily. Spatial memory was not enhanced in the familiar environment.

In yet another study, the variability of performance of aged rats was used to evaluate the effect of ALC on spatial learning.2 The aged animals were divided into three classes of performance (good, intermediate, and poor), and these three classes were equally subdivided into controls and ALC-treated animals in order to investigate the effects of ALC on spatial retention. ALC improved spatial retention only in the intermediate performance group, suggesting that its effects are performance-dependent. This performance variability was also found to be the case with human subjects. While both good and poor performers benefited from ALC-enhanced spatial memory, the poor performers were found to benefit more.3

1. Caprioli A, Markowska AL, Olton DS. Acetyl-L-Carnitine: chronic treatment improves spatial acquisition in a new environment in aged rats. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 1995 Jul;50(4):B232-36
2. Taglialatela G, Caprioli A, Giuliani A, Ghirardi O. Spatial memory and NGF levels in aged rats: Natural variability and effects of acetyl-L-carnitine treatment. Experimental Gerontology 1996;31:577-587.
3. Lino A, Boccia MM, Rusconi AC, Bellomonte L, Cocuroccia B. Psycho-functional changes of attention and learning under the effect of L-acetylcarnitine in 17 young subjects. A pilot study for use in mental failure. Clin Ter 1992;140:569-573.

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