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Potential of creatine or phosphocreatine supplementation in cerebrovascular disease and in ischemic heart disease

Abstract

Creatine is of paramount importance for maintaining and managing cellular ATP stores in both physiological and pathological states. Besides these “ergogenic” actions, it has a number of additional “pleiotropic” effects, e.g., antioxidant activity, neurotransmitter-like behavior, prevention of opening of mitochondrial permeability pore and others. Creatine supplementation has been proposed for a number of conditions, including neurodegenerative diseases. However, it is likely that creatine’s largest therapeutic potential is in those diseases caused by energy shortage or by increased energy demand; for example, ischemic stroke and other cerebrovascular diseases. Surprisingly, despite a large preclinical body of evidence, little or no clinical research has been carried out in these fields. However, recent work showed that high-dose creatine supplementation causes an 8–9 % increase in cerebral creatine content, and that this is capable of improving, in humans, neuropsychological performances that are hampered by hypoxia. In addition, animal work suggests that creatine supplementation may be protective in stroke by increasing not only the neuronal but also the endothelial creatine content. Creatine should be administered before brain ischemia occurs, and thus should be given for prevention purposes to patients at high risk of stroke. In myocardial ischemia, phosphocreatine has been used clinically with positive results, e.g., showing prevention of arrhythmia and improvement in cardiac parameters. Nevertheless, large clinical trials are needed to confirm these results in the context of modern reperfusion interventions. So far, the most compelling evidence for creatine and/or phosphocreatine use in cardiology is as an addition to cardioplegic solutions, where positive effects have been repeatedly reported.

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Acknowledgments

Funding by Telethon Italy (grant number GEP 13019 to MB) is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Maurizio Balestrino.

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Maurizio Balestrino and Enrico Adriano were among the founders of NovaNeuro Srl, a spin-off of the University of Genova whose aim is, among others, the invention and commercialization of creatine-based nutritional supplements.

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Handling Editor: T. Wallimann and R. Harris.

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Balestrino, M., Sarocchi, M., Adriano, E. et al. Potential of creatine or phosphocreatine supplementation in cerebrovascular disease and in ischemic heart disease. Amino Acids 48, 1955–1967 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-016-2173-8

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Keywords

  • Creatine
  • Phosphocreatine
  • Creatine kinase
  • Stroke
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Treatment
  • Prevention