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Developmental Study on Fatigue in Cancer

This study has been completed.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Information provided by:
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) Identifier:
First received: April 29, 2002
Last updated: August 17, 2006
Last verified: March 2006
L-carnitine is a supplement (type of vitamin) that has been suggested to be decreased in patients with cancer. We will identify patients that have terminal cancer and fatigue. The purpose of this study is to determine if L-carnitine replacement improves fatigue in cancer patients with L-carnitine deficiency.

Condition Intervention Phase
Drug: L-carnitine
Phase 2

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Crossover Assignment
Masking: Double-Blind
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Developmental Study on Fatigue in Cancer

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH):

Estimated Enrollment: 140
Study Start Date: January 2002
Estimated Study Completion Date: August 2004
Detailed Description:
Fatigue is the most frequently reported symptom in patients with cancer. The causes of fatigue are multifactorial and include the disease itself, antineoplastic therapies, anemia, depression, and malnutrition. Our preliminary data suggest that micronutrient deficiencies, specifically carnitine deficiency, may be an important factor in fatigue. Carnitine plays a major role in energy metabolism. Systemic depletion is characterized by weight loss, fatigue, muscle weakness, decreased tolerance to metabolic stress, and cardiomyopathy. We found deficiency of the micronutrient carnitine in 17/27 patients with cancer. Symptoms of fatigue and functional status improved significantly in those patients who received oral L-carnitine supplementation. In addition, we observed similar results in 6/10 patients with end stage AIDS presenting with carnitine deficiency. Objectives: a) To determine the effect of L-carnitine therapy on symptoms of fatigue in patients with terminal cancer and serum carnitine deficiency, and b) to determine the effect of L-carnitine therapy on performance status, cognitive function, mood, quality of life, and motor activity in these patients. Study Design: We propose to conduct a Phase Il developmental randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study to determine the effect of the micronutrient L-carnitine on fatigue and other outcomes in patients with terminal cancer. A sample of 130 patients with terminal cancer, fatigue and serum carnitine deficiency will be recruited into the intervention study. At the first visit, the patients will receive a baseline assessment of fatigue, performance status, cognitive function, mood, and quality of life and motor activity. a) During weeks 1-4, patients will be randomized to receive L-carnitine, 2 g/day, placebo. b) During weeks 5-8, all patients will receive L-carnitine at a dose of 2 g/day, for a period of 4 weeks. Measures will be repeated at 48 hs, 2 weeks, 4 weeks and 8 weeks. The primary endpoint will be change in fatigue at 4 weeks. Analysis will evaluate group differences in the primary endpoint and other outcomes. An interim analysis will be done once 15 patients have been observed in each group at 4 weeks. Paired and unpaired data analyses between groups will be conducted with the assistance of a statistician.

Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years and older   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No


  • Patients with diagnosis of cancer and estimated life expectancy of less than 6 months.
  • Patients who have undergone antineoplastic therapy which may worsen fatigue or promote carnitine deficiency will be eligible if completed the therapy more than 90 days prior to beginning the study.


  • Uncontrolled or severe cardiovascular, pulmonary, or renal disease.
  • Patients with encephalopathy or psychiatric disorder sufficiently severe to impair completion of the questionnaire.
  • Treatment or replacement therapy with any form of carnitine less than 12 months prior to enrollment.
  • Known sensitivity to carnitine.
  • History of seizures or stroke.
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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00034450

United States, New York
Beth Israel Medical Center
New York, New York, United States, 10003
Sponsors and Collaborators
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Principal Investigator: Ricardo A. Cruciani, MD, PhD Beth Israel Medical Center, Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care
  More Information Identifier: NCT00034450     History of Changes
Obsolete Identifiers: NCT00060034
Other Study ID Numbers: R21AT001025-01 ( US NIH Grant/Contract Award Number )
Study First Received: April 29, 2002
Last Updated: August 17, 2006

Keywords provided by National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH):
Terminal Cancer

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Signs and Symptoms processed this record on May 24, 2017