In patients with malignancies, the system of carnitine seems abnormally expressed. The serum total, free, and acyl carnitine levels in 40 children and adolescents with acute leukemia were determined using electrospray tandem mass spectrometry in 4 different phases of the disease: at the diagnosis, 1 year after the initiation of chemotherapy, at the end of treatment, and 2.4±1.668 years after the completion of chemotherapy. The age, sex, hemoglobin values, serum biochemistry, somatometric features of the patients, and the risk group of the disease were examined. Although the carnitine levels were found higher in patients compared with the control group from diagnosis to treatment completion, statistically significant decrease in carnitine levels was observed in patients within different phases of the disease especially during induction and consolidation treatment (phase A to B) for both free and total (P=0.023) carnitine. In addition, a statistically significant recovery in carnitine levels was observed between phase B (end of intensive chemotherapy) and D (some years after the completion of treatment) for free and total carnitine (P=0.054 and 0.035, respectively). No statistical correlation was documented between the carnitine levels and somatometric parameters or other variables studied. In conclusion, a significant transient decrease in the levels of carnitine during the treatment was observed in children with acute leukemia. Further studies are required to clarify the role of carnitine status in patients with malignancies and possibly the necessity of carnitine supplementation during chemotherapy administration.
Departments of *Paediatrics
§Statistics, University of Crete
†Pediatrics Department, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
‡Department of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, University Hospital of Heraklion, Crete, Greece
Reprints: Maria Rogalidou, MD, K. Karamanli 42 Anatoli Ioannina, Greece 45500 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Received for publication July 17, 2008; accepted November 11, 2009