Protection against acute hyperammonemia: The role of quaternary amines

Otmar Kloiber, Borislav Banjac, Lester R Drewes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The quaternary amine L-carnitine is able to protect Swiss Albino mice from hypermmonemia when administered in high doses before ammonium acetate. This has been explained by its specific ability to shuttle fatty acids into mitochondria. The structure of L-carnitine resembles the chemical structure of other substances that have been described as being able to protect living cells againts osmotic stress. We subjected Swiss Albino mice to hyperammonemia after pretreatment with L-carnitine or "osmoprotectants" such as the quaternary amines choline and betaine, and trimethylamine N-oxide. L-Carnitine proved to be the drug of choice to protect against acute hyperammonemia. Nevertheless, the other tested compounds appeared also to be effective, suggesting that osmoregulation plays a major role in protection against hyperammonemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-90
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 1988

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to thank Carolyn Clark for editorial assistance and preparation of the manuscript, William R. Bailey for technical assistance, and the Duluth Clinic Foundation for its financial support.


  • Betaine
  • Choline
  • Hyperammonemia
  • L-Carnitine
  • Osmoregulation
  • Trimethylamine N-oxide

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