Little is known about factors that regulate the survival of cranial motoneurons which project to peripheral targets. Various neurotrophic factors of central and peripheral origin have been isolated. In this study, we examined thirteen newborn Wistar rats to determine the effects of acetyl-L- carnitine treatment on the survival of motoneurons within the facial nucleus after transection of the facial nerve. Acetyl-L-carnitine was administered for 7 days in seven rats after nerve transection, while saline solution was injected in 6 rats used as controls. Both the motoneuron number and the motoneuron diameter were significantly higher in the facial nucleus of the rats treated with acetyl-L-carnitine than in the facial nucleus of the control rats. The results obtained suggest that acetyl-L-carnitine can rescue a substantial number of facial motoneurons from axotomy-induced cell death. Compared to neurotrophic factors, because of its simple molecular structure, acetyl-L-carnitine permits a sate oral and parenteral administration. It is suggested that acetyl-L-carnitine could be considered for use as a therapeutic agent in neurodegenerative disorders.
- Facial nerve
- neurotrophic factors