Acetyl-L-carnitine reduces the latencies of electroretinogram oscillatory potentials in healthy humans. The effect of acetyl-L-carnitine (50 mg · kg−1 · day−1) on the increased electroretinogram latencies found in rats with STZ-induced hyperglycemia of 3-wk duration was evaluated. The aldose reductase inhibitor sorbinil, which has been shown to normalize abnormal electroretinogram tracings associated with STZ-induced diabetes, was used as a positive control. Aldose reductase inhibitors are thought to lower tissue sorbitol while increasing myo-inositol. The electroretinograms of the STZ-induced diabetic rats in this study were abnormal; treatment with acetyl-L-carnitine as well as sorbinil significantly improved electroretinogram b-wave amplitude and decreased the latencies of oscillatory potentials 2 and 3. Acetyl-L-carnitine treatment of STZ-induced diabetic rats did not affect hyperglycemia or erythrocyte polyol pathway activity as reflected by erythrocyte sorbitol levels. In contrast, sorbinil did reduce elevated erythrocyte sorbitol levels. This suggests that the impaired electroretinograms associated with STZ-induced diabetes may not be caused solely by increased polyol pathway activity.

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