Creatine in mouse models of neurodegeneration and aging
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The supplementation of creatine has shown a marked neuroprotective effect in mouse models of neurodegenerative diseases (Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). This has been assigned to the known bioenergetic, anti-apoptotic, anti-excitotoxic and anti-oxidant properties of creatine. As aging and neurodegeneration share pathophysiological pathways, we investigated the effect of oral creatine supplementation on aging in 162 aged wild-type C57Bl/6J mice. The median healthy life span of creatine-fed mice was 9% higher than in their control littermates, and they performed significantly better in neurobehavioral tests. In brains of creatine-treated mice, there was a trend toward a reduction of reactive oxygen species and significantly lower accumulation of the “aging pigment” lipofuscin. Expression profiling showed an upregulation of genes implicated in neuronal growth, neuroprotection, and learning. These data showed that creatine improves health and longevity in mice. Creatine may, therefore, be a promising food supplement to promote healthy human aging. However, the strong neuroprotective effects in animal studies of creatine have not been reproduced in human clinical trials (that have been conducted in Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). The reasons for this translational gap are discussed. One obvious cause seems to be that all previous human studies may have been underpowered. Large phase III trials over long time periods are currently being conducted for Parkinson’s disease and Huntington’s disease, and will possibly solve this issue.
KeywordsCreatine supplementation Animal models Neurodegeneration Parkinson’s disease Huntington’s disease Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis Aging Neuroprotection
Conflict of interest
T. Klopstock received free creatine supplements for the described mouse studies and human trials as well as a travel grant from the creatine manufacturer AlzChem Trostberg GmbH.
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