The effects of feeding the peroxisome proliferators ciprofibrate (a hypolipidaemic analogue of clofibrate) or POCA (2-[5-(4-chlorophenyl)pentyl]oxirane-2-carboxylate) (an inhibitor of CPT I) to rats for 5 days on the distribution of carnitine and acylcarnitine esters between liver, plasma and muscle and on hepatic CoA concentrations (free and acylated) and activities of carnitine acetyltransferase and acyl-CoA hydrolases were determined. Ciprofibrate and POCA increased hepatic [total CoA] by 2 and 2.5 times respectively, and [total carnitine] by 4.4 and 1.9 times respectively, but decreased plasma [carnitine] by 36-46%. POCA had no effect on either urinary excretion of acylcarnitine esters or [acylcarnitine] in skeletal muscle. By contrast, ciprofibrate decreased [acylcarnitine] and [total carnitine] in muscle. In liver, ciprofibrate increased the [carnitine]/[CoA] ratio and caused a larger increase in [acylcarnitine] (7-fold) than in [carnitine] (4-fold), thereby increasing the [short-chain acylcarnitine]/[carnitine] ratio. POCA did not affect the [carnitine]/[CoA] and the [short-chain acylcarnitine]/[carnitine] ratios, but it decreased the [long-chain acylcarnitine]/[carnitine] ratio. Ciprofibrate and POCA increased the activities of acyl-CoA hydrolases, and carnitine acetyltransferase activity was increased 28-fold and 6-fold by ciprofibrate and POCA respectively. In cultures of hepatocytes, ciprofibrate caused similar changes in enzyme activity to those observed in vivo, although [carnitine] decreased with time. The results suggest that: (1) the reactions catalysed by the short-chain carnitine acyltransferases, but not by the carnitine palmitoyltransferases, are near equilibrium in liver both before and after modification of metabolism by administration of ciprofibrate or POCA; (2) the increase in hepatic [carnitine] after ciprofibrate or POCA feeding can be explained by redistribution of carnitine between tissues; (3) the activity of carnitine acetyltransferase and [total carnitine] in liver are closely related.

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