Hypothyroid patients experience fatigue-related symptoms despite adequate thyroid hormone replacement. Thyroid hormone plays an essential role in carnitine-dependent fatty acid import and oxidation. We investigated the effects of L-carnitine supplementation on fatigue in patients with hypothyroidism. In total, 60 patients (age 50.0 ± 9.2 years, 3 males, 57 females) who still experienced fatigue (fatigue severity scale [FSS] score ≥ 36) were given L-carnitine (n = 30, 990 mg L-carnitine twice daily) or placebo (n = 30) for 12 weeks. After 12 weeks, although neither the FSS score nor the physical fatigue score (PFS) changed significantly, the mental fatigue score (MFS) was significantly decreased by treatment with L-carnitine compared with placebo (from 4.5 ± 1.9 to 3.9 ± 1.5 vs. from 4.2 ± 1.8 to 4.6 ± 1.6, respectively; P < 0.01). In the L-carnitine group, 75.0%, 53.6%, and 50.0% of patients showed improvement in the FSS score, PFS, and MFS, respectively, but only 20.0%, 24.0%, and 24.0%, respectively, did so in the placebo group (all P < 0.05). Both the PFS and MFS were significantly improved in patients younger than 50 years and those with free T3 ≥ 4.0 pg/mL by treatment with L-carnitine compared with placebo. Additionally, the MFS was significantly improved in patients taking thyroid hormone after thyroid cancer surgery. These results suggest that L-carnitine supplementation may be useful in alleviating fatigue symptoms in hypothyroid patients, especially in those younger than 50 years and those who have hypothyroidism after thyroidectomy for thyroid cancer (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01769157).
- Fatigue severity scale
- Wessely and powell score
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism