Acetyl-l-carnitine 1: Effects on mortality, pathology and sensory-motor performance in aging rats

Alicja L. Markowska, Donald K. Ingram, Carol A. Barnes, Edward L. Spangler, Vincent J. Lemken, Hideki Kametani, William Yee, David S. Olton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Three different test sites assessed the effects of acetyl-l-carnitine (AC) on age-related changes in general health, sensory-motor skills, learning, and memory. Two groups of rats began the experiments at 16 months of age. One group (OLD-AC) was given AC, 75 mg/kg/day, beginning at 16 months. The other group (OLD-CON) was treated identically except it was not given the drug. Beginning at 22 months of age, these rats and a group of young (3-4 months old) rats (YG-CON) were given a series of sensory-motor tasks. AC decreased mortality, and had no reliable effect on body weight, fluid intake, or the general health of the rats. These data indicate that a chronic dose of AC does not interfere with food and water intake, and may increase longevity. An age-related decline of performance occurred in most of the sensory-motor tasks; locomotor activity was reduced in a novel environment and in a runwheel, and the ability to prevent falling was reduced in tests on a taut wire, rotorod, inclined screen, and several types of elevated bridges. An age-related decline of performance did not occur in grooming, or in the latency to initiate several different behaviors. AC had no effect on performance in any sensory-motor task. These data indicate that the improvements produced by AC in some tests of spatial memory may be due to the effects of AC on cognitive abilities rather than on sensory-motor skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-498
Number of pages8
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1990


  • Acetyl-l-carnitine
  • Aging
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Mortality
  • Sensory-motor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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