Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 November 2007
l-Carnitine supplementation can stimulate erythropoiesis, reduce exercise-induced plasma lactate concentrations and decrease post-exercise muscle damage. Next to horses, Greyhounds represent the premier animal racing species and perform short-duration, very high-intensity exercise that has the potential to incur substantial muscle damage. Under resting and standard racing conditions (5/16 mile), we tested the novel hypotheses that l-carnitine supplementation in Greyhounds would: (1) elevate haematocrit at rest and immediately post-exercise; (2) reduce peak post-exercise plasma lactate; and (3) reduce indices of muscle damage (plasma creatine phosphokinase, CPK and aspartate aminotransferase, AST). Six conditioned Greyhounds (30.1 ± 1.6 kg) underwent a randomized placebo-controlled crossover study to determine the effects of 6 weeks of l-carnitine supplementation (100 mg kg− 1 of body weight/day) at rest and following a maximal speed 5/16 mile race. In accordance with our hypotheses, l-carnitine elevated resting and immediately post-race haematocrit (control, 60.1 ± 1.7, l-carnitine, 63.6 ± 1.7; P < 0.05) and reduced peak post-race plasma CPK and AST concentrations (both P < 0.05). Those dogs with the highest peak post-exercise plasma CPK concentrations under placebo conditions evidenced the greatest reduction with l-carnitine supplementation (r = 0.99, P < 0.01). However, contrary to our hypotheses, l-carnitine did not change peak post-exercise plasma lactate concentrations (control, 27.0 ± 2.1, l-carnitine, 27.7 ± 1.3; P>0.05). We conclude that l-carnitine supplementation increases the potential for oxygen transport and reduces plasma indicators of muscle damage, CPK and AST in racing Greyhounds.