Creatine in Clinical Trials : Neurodegenerative Disorders

Clinical Scenarios Where Creatine is Being Tested

1. Muscular Dystrophy

2. Neurodegenerative Disorders

3. Ischemia and hypoxia


Creatine Combats Many Neurodegenertive Disorders

Creatine Enhances the Survival of Brain Cells in Response to Neurological Disoders

By far, creatine is best known for its ergogenic (muscle-enhancing) benefits. Ironically, creatine supplementation may provide an even greater service to society as a whole on the neurological level. In fact, the neurological deficits associated with inborn errors in creatine production and storage are typically more pronounced than the corresponding muscular symptoms, reflecting the importance of creatine to the proper functioning of the nervous system.

Unfortunately, dietary creatine supplementation only increases brain creatine levels one third as much as it does our muscular reserves. The reason for this discrepancy appears to be the blood brain barrier, which serves to protect the brain from foreign blood born toxins and pathogens. Hence, other strategies need to be developed to more effectively deliver creatine to the central nervous system of humans inflicted with those neurodegenerative disorders associated with creatine deficiencies.

Despite this apparent limitation, the latest scientific research is clearly showing that creatine is an extremely important neuroprotectant, an agent that increases the survival of nerve cells (neurons) to environmental insults. Many neurodegenerative disorders are associated with compromises in energy metabolism and the production of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). In both these capacities creatine may help brain cells survival metabolic and physical trauma. Accordingly, creatine supplementation is currently being tested (quite successfully) in clinical and animal studies for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Huntington’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Furthermore, recent animal studies have demonstrated creatine to be effective treatment in greatly reducing the size of brain lesions in response to ischemia (a localized reduction in blood flow). In the future creatine may be used as a method to preserve brain function following acute stroke.

Genetic conditions giving rise to a decrease in creatine synthesis or transport in brain cells (neurons) results in severe mental retardation. In this respect, it is not surprising that creatine supplementation has been recently shown to aid in the performance of exhausting mental tasks such as, the ability to recollect a complicated series of digits. Creatine supplementation is becoming a smart practice!

Finally, creatine has also been recently shown to possess inherent antioxidant properties, which should also assist in the recovery of the brain from sudden insult.

Selected Scientific References

Review: Creatine’s Possible Therapeutic Value for Several Neurological, Vascular & Muscular Disorders

Below is the reference to a beautifully written commentary on the subject (creatine’s neurological benefits) co-authored by an admired colleague and friend, Markus Wyss of Switzerland. Next, is a link to Markus’ new book, “Creatine and Creatine Kinase in Health and Disease”.

Wyss, M. and Schulze, A. (2002) Health implications of creatine: Can oral creatine supplementation protect against neurological and atherosclerotic disease? Neuroscience, Volume 112 (2), pages 243-260.

New Book: Creatine and Creatine Kinase in Health and Disease
by Gajja S. Salomons and Markus Wyss (2007)

About the book: Although creatine was discovered already in the 1830s, it is only in recent years that its crucial role for human health and general well-being has been increasingly realized and appreciated. A number of beneficial health effects have been ascribed to oral creatine supplementation, such as neuroprotective, ergogenic, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, or antitumor effects. Creatine may even improve memory and intelligence. In the present book, emphasis is placed on the intricate interplay between creatine and creatine kinase function on one hand, and proper brain function, neurodegenerative disease and/or neuroprotection on the other hand. The book also elaborates on the recently identified inborn errors of creatine biosynthesis and transport, the so-called cerebral creatine deficiency syndromes. The clinical hallmarks of these disorders are mental retardation, epilepsy, autistic-like behaviour, and speech and language delay. In addition, the muscle growth- and strength-promoting effects, the pharmacokinetics and the safety of oral creatine supplementation are discussed. Finally, the present book outlines the emerging “systems biology” approaches for understanding the pleiotropic effects of creatine and creatine kinase, and hypothesizes on the most promising and influential future avenues of research towards creatine-based nutritional strategies for the prevention of neurological disease, and for improving the quality of life in general.

Visit the following link for more information about this book:

The Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) is currently planning a multi-center trial to test the effectiveness of creatine in humans with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease). Please give to the MDA and help support research investigating the neuroprotective consequences of creatine supplementation.

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