Etomoxir is an inhibitor of mitochondrial CPT1 (carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1) and thereby switches energy metabolism from fatty acids to glucose oxidation. Such a metabolic change may be beneficial in CHF (congestive heart failure). The ERGO (etomoxir for the recovery of glucose oxidation) study was designed in which etomoxir was tested at a dose of 80 and 40 mg compared with placebo for a period of 6 months in patients with CHF. As the principle measure of efficacy, a maximal exercise tolerance test and a submaximal 6-min corridor walk test were used. Secondary end points were echocardiographical dimensions and quality-of-life assessment scores. A total of 350 patients were planned to be screened, with the expectation that end point data would be available from approx. 260 patients. However, the study had to be stopped prematurely, because unacceptably high liver transaminase levels were detected in four patients taking etomoxir. At the termination of the study, 121 patients were randomized to placebo, 118 to 40 mg of etomoxir and 108 to 80 mg of etomoxir. At that time, 21 patients in the placebo group, 16 in the 40 mg of etomoxir group and 14 patients in the 80 mg of etomoxir group had completed the study. The mean increases in exercise time were 3.3, 10.2 and 19.4 s for the placebo, 40 mg of etomoxir and 80 mg of etomoxir groups respectively (P value was not significant). No changes were obvious in the 6-min corridor walk test or in echocardiographical parameters from baseline. The number of patients that completed the study was too small to demonstrate significant effects on exercise time, although there was a tendency towards an increase in exercise time. Therefore, before rejecting the hypothesis that inhibition of fatty acid oxidation might be beneficial in CHF, similar studies have to be performed using different inhibitors of fatty acid oxidation targeting CPT1 and other enzymes in this metabolic pathway.

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