Reduced hepatic mitochondrial beta-oxidation and changes in the plasma carnitine pool are important biochemical findings in valproate induced liver toxicity. The carnitine pools in plasma and liver and the liver coenzyme A (CoA) pool in a patient with fatal, valproate induced hepatotoxicity were measured. In plasma and liver the free and total carnitine contents were decreased, whereas the ratios short chain acylcarnitine/total acid soluble carnitine were increased. The long chain acylcarnitine content was unchanged in plasma, and increased in liver. The total CoA content in liver was decreased by 84%. This was due to reduced concentrations of CoASH, acetyl-CoA, and long chain acyl-CoA whereas the concentrations of succinyl-CoA and propionyl-CoA were both increased. The good agreement between the plasma and liver carnitine pools reflects the close relation between these two pools. The observed decrease in the hepatic CoASH and total CoA content has so far not been reported in humans with valproate induced hepatotoxicity and may be functionally significant.
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