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Objective—To determine the effects of carnitine (Ca) or taurine (Ta) supplementation on prevention of lipid accumulation in the liver of cats.

Animals—24 adult cats.

Procedure—Cats were fed a weight-gaining diet sufficient in n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), low in long-chain n-3 PUFAs (n-3 LPUFA), and containing corn gluten for 20 weeks. Cats gained at least 30% in body weight and were assigned to 4 weight-reduction diets (6 cats/diet) for 7 to 10 weeks (control diet, control plus Ca, control plus Ta, and control plus Ca and Ta).

Results—Hepatic lipids accumulated significantly during weight gain and weight loss but were not altered by Ca or Ta after weight loss. Carnitine significantly increased n-3 and n-6 LPUFAs in hepatic triglycerides, decreased incorporation of 13C palmitate into very-low-density lipoprotein and hepatic triglycerides, and increased plasma ketone bodies. Carnitine also significantly increased weight loss but without altering the fat to lean body mass ratio. Taurine did not significantly affect any variables. Diets low in n-3 LPUFAs predisposed cats to hepatic lipidosis during weight gain, which was further exacerbated during weight loss. Mitochondrial numbers decreased during weight gain and weight loss but were not affected by treatment. Carnitine improved fatty acid oxidation and glucose utilization during weight loss without correcting hepatic lipidosis.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—The primary mechanism leading to hepatic lipidosis in cats appears to be decreased fatty acid oxidation. Carnitine may improve fatty acid oxidation but will not ameliorate hepatic lipidosis in cats fed a diet low in n-3 fatty acids. (Am J Vet Res 2003;64:1265–1277)

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in American Journal of Veterinary Research