Tag Archives: chemotherapy

Carnitine Supplements Prevent Toxicity Caused By Chemotherapy

Cancer chemotherapy is continually being refined. Many chemotherapy drugs successfully treat tumors, but they also have severe side effects. Can carnitine (L-carnitine) supplements prevent some of these side effects?

MM Sayed-Ahmed, with King Saud University’s Department of Pharmacology, College of Pharmacy, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, reviewed the role that the amino acid carnitine has in cancer chemotherapy-induced multiple organ toxicity.

Chemotherapy has some extreme side effects, which can greatly reduce quality of life. Nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite make the patient feel weak. Numbness and muscle and joint pain are also distressing common side effects.

Even worse, some chemotherapy can lead to life-threatening multiple organ toxicity. It’s not usually the anticancer activity of the chemotherapy drugs which cause organ toxicity, but because the chemotherapy drugs affect the absorption of other nutrients.

If carnitine cannot be absorbed and therefore used by the body, the patient develops a carnitine deficiency. And patients with cancer cachexia—the extreme wasting, muscle loss caused by the cancer—are at particular risk from carnitine deficiencies. Cancer cachexia patients are not getting enough nutrition.

Carnitine is found in red meat and dairy products. It’s also found in soybeans, wheat, and avocados. And the active form, it is readily available as a supplement.

Carnitine affects fatty acids and energy production. It also reduces blood triglycerides and cholesterol.

Carnitine depletion leads to toxicity

The anticancer chemotherapy drugs are crucially important, often the only means to treat the cancer. So preventing carnitine deficiency is a key goal. Supplementation with this amino acid, and carefully monitored levels, are necessary to reduce the toxic effects of chemotherapy. Carnitine supplementation does not affect the anticancer activities of the chemotherapy.

The review concluded that carnitine is depleted by several anticancer chemotherapy drugs, and carnitine supplementation must be considered to prevent multiple organ toxicity.



Reduce Symptoms of Hemorrhagic Cystitis with Histidine

Histidine amino acid may help hemorrhagic cystitis for cancer patients. Hemorrhagic cystitis, a complication of the lower urinary tract, is characterized by painful urination and blood in the urine. Often caused by chemotherapy, bladder infections or pelvic radiotherapy, hemorrhagic cystitis is usually treated first with clot evacuation and elimination of any obstruction in the bladder outlet. 

But according to researchers at Urmia University’s Department of Pathobiology in Iran, another possible treatment for hemorrhagic cystitis is vitamin C and the essential amino acid histidine.

Histidine, an important component in the biosynthesis of histamine and carnosine, can be converted into ammonia, urocanic acid and even antioxidants. Because vitamin C and histidine both have antioxidant activities, the researchers hypothesize that a combination of the two would reduce the symptoms of hemorrhagic cystitis in rats.

For the experiment regarding histidine, researchers Amir Farshid, Esmaeal Tamaddonfard and Sepideh Ranjbar administered the drug cyclophosphamide to induce hemorrhagic cystitis in 48 rats through oxidative stress. They were then divided into groups given either saline alone as the control group, 200 mg/kg of vitamin C, 200 mg/kg of histidine, or a combination of vitamin C and histidine. The injections were administered three times at 2, 6 and 24 hours after induction of hemorrhagic cystitis. The researchers then collected blood samples and assessed any changes in the bladder wall.

The effects of amino acid histidine on hemorrhagic cystitis

After evaluating the data on plasma total antioxidant capacity (TAC), the researchers found that injection of cyclophosphamide significantly decreased plasma TAC levels. This activity was reversed with separate and combined treatments of vitamin C and histidine, suggesting the experimental therapy recovered the negative symptoms of cyclophosphamide.

The same effect was shown with plasma malondialdehyde (MDA) levels. As for histopathological changes in the bladder, the researchers found that histidine was able to significantly reduce all the negative changes in the bladder brought on by cyclophosphamide-induced hemorrhagic cystitis. Some of the negative changes include congestion, edema, hemorrhages and leukocyte infiltration of the bladder’s wall.

Based on the histidine related test results Farshid, Tamaddonfard and Ranjbar believe that a combination treatment of vitamin C and histidine will suppress any negative effects of hemorrhagic cystitis.

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