Insulin resistance during pregnancy can lead to gestational diabetes, which affects about 5-10 per cent of pregnancies. According to the American Diabetes Association, about a third of women who suffered from gestational diabetes during pregnancy develop type 2 diabetes in the following years.
Blood levels of the vitamin-like substance L-carnitine are already significantly reduced by the 12th week of pregnancy, and are reduced further before birth.
Researchers at the University of Vienna have found that lower L-Carnitine plasma levels lead to a down-regulation of the expression of certain enzymes involved in fatty acid metabolism, namely CPT1, CPT2 and CRAT. When the relative mRNA abundances of these enzymes are low, however, the plasma levels of free fatty acids increase.
In the new study, published in the August issue of Chemical Monthly, (vol 136, pp1523-1533), taking a daily supplement of 2g of L-Carnipure tartrate produced by the Swiss company Lonza was found to increase the relative mRNA levels of these enzymes in pregnant women.
In three separate trials, more than 80 women in the 20th week of pregnancy took a L-carnipure supplement in different doses until giving birth. Only the 2g dose of L-Carnipure tartrate, which consists of 68 per cent L-Carnitine and 32 per cent L-tartaric acid, had an impact on the fatty acid enzymes.
Lonza says there is increasing evidence that L-Carnitine may play an important role during pregnancy, particularly in women following a meat-reduced or vegetarian diet. These women may have a daily L-Carnitine intake that is too low to meet the increased needs during pregnancy.