Carnosine (beta-alanyl-L-histidine), also called L-carnosine, was first discovered in 1900 by W. S. Gulewitsch. The structure of carnosine is made up of two amino acids, histidine and alanine. This molecule is found only in animal tissue, especially skeletal, heart muscle, nerve, and brain tissue. Most vegetarian diets may not provide enough carnosine, but whether this has a negative effect remains undetermined.
The exact biological role of carnosine is unclear. Individuals who have Down syndrome or who experience seizures have lower levels of carnosine. Therefore, carnosine is believed to help control brain activity.
Carnosine supplements are popular among bodybuilders and athletes, who hope to improve recovery from muscle fatigue. More recently, it has been used as an antiaging treatment. Carnosine has been called a "longevity nutrient" and the "antiaging and antioxidant dipeptide," based on findings showing that animals with higher levels of carnosine appear to live longer.
Carnosine is also used to prevent or treat diabetes complications, such as nerve disorders, cataracts, and kidney dysfunction. Clinical trials have shown benefits associated with carnosine supplementation in children with autism and eye disorders, including cataracts, corneal disease, and eyeball injury. However, evidence supporting the use of carnosine for any medical condition in humans is limited.

Related Terms

Alanine, anserine, beta-alanyl-L-histidine, Can-Cr®, carnivorous diets, carnosinase, carnosine, carnosine-related compounds, CBEX, chicken breast extract, histidine, homocarnosine, imidazole, L-carnosine, L-CAZ®, NAC, N-acetyl carnosine, N-alpha-acetyl carnosine, polaprezinc, zinc complex of L-carnosine, zinc-carnosine chelate.

evidence table

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Autism (Grade: C)
Carnosine is thought to build up in a portion of the brain that has been linked with expression and behavior. This brain area is usually impaired in autistic individuals. Carnosine may help protect or activate this area of the brain, thus improving speech, social activity, and behavior in autistic children. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
Cataracts (Grade: C)
Carnosine eyedrop solutions may help protect areas around the lens of the eye. Also, carnosine eyedrop solutions may help treat cataracts in the elderly. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
Exercise performance (Grade: C)
Carnosine may improve recovery from muscle fatigue by reducing the buildup of acid in muscles following high-intensity workouts. However, overall exercise performance may still not improve. Further research is needed before a firm conclusion can be made.
Eye disorders (Grade: C)
In Russia, carnosine eyedrops have been approved to treat eye disorders. However, further research is required before a conclusion can be made.