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Long-Chain Acyl CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency Medication

  • Author: Fernando Scaglia, MD, FACMG; Chief Editor: Luis O Rohena, MD  more...
Updated: Nov 14, 2014

Medication Summary

Try carnitine supplementation in patients with evident hypocarnitinemia and continue if symptoms improve; however, start carnitine supplementation with caution during acute fulminant symptoms because of the potential risk of cardiac arrhythmias.


Dietary supplements

Class Summary

L-carnitine at high doses corrects the metabolic abnormalities and hypocarnitinemia present in cases of long-chain 3-hydroxy acyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase (LCHAD) deficiency. It may be important for the conjugation and excretion of fatty acids, for the enhancement of the excretion of toxic metabolites, and to generate free CoA; however, use with extreme caution during acute metabolic crises.

Levocarnitine (Carnitor)


An amino acid derivative synthesized from methionine and lysine, required in energy metabolism. Can promote excretion of excess fatty acids in patients with defects in fatty acid metabolism or specific organic acidopathies, which bioaccumulate acyl CoA esters. Normal levels occur in liver, and mild level increases occur in skeletal muscle.

High doses are able to restore the level of free carnitine in plasma to normal, and many patients improve with this therapy; however, the concentration of long-chain acyl-carnitines increases, which can be detrimental and cause serious cardiac arrhythmias in fulminant crises.

Use in long-chain fatty acid oxidation disorders (eg, LCHAD deficiency, MTP deficiency) is a matter of continued debate, mainly during acute fulminant crises when it enhances the formation of long-chain acylcarnitines, which may cause ventricular arrhythmogenesis.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Fernando Scaglia, MD, FACMG Associate Professor of Genetics, Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital

Fernando Scaglia, MD, FACMG is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, Society for Inherited Metabolic Disorders, Society for the Study of Inborn Errors of Metabolism, American Society of Human Genetics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Margaret M McGovern, MD, PhD Professor and Chair of Pediatrics, Stony Brook University School of Medicine

Margaret M McGovern, MD, PhD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society of Human Genetics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Luis O Rohena, MD Chief, Medical Genetics, San Antonio Military Medical Center; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, F Edward Hebert School of Medicine; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio

Luis O Rohena, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Chemical Society, American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, American Society of Human Genetics

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Additional Contributors

Karl S Roth, MD Retired Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Creighton University School of Medicine

Karl S Roth, MD is a member of the following medical societies: Alpha Omega Alpha, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Nutrition, American Pediatric Society, American Society for Nutrition, American Society of Nephrology, Association of American Medical Colleges, Medical Society of Virginia, New York Academy of Sciences, Sigma Xi, Society for Pediatric Research, Southern Society for Pediatric Research

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

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Schematic demonstrating mitochondrial fatty acid beta-oxidation and effects of long-chain acyl CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (LCHAD) deficiency.
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