Living Without Creatine: Unchanged Exercise Capacity and Response to Chronic Myocardial Infarction in Creatine-Deficient Mice

Craig A Lygate, Dunja Aksentijevic, Dana Dawson, Michiel Ten Hove, Darci Phillips, Joseph P de Bono, Debra J Medway, Liam M Sebag-Montefiore, Imre Hunyor, Keith Channon, Kieran Clarke, Sevasti Zervou, Hugh Watkins, Robert Balaban, Stefan Neubauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


Rationale: Creatine is thought to be involved in the spatial and temporal buffering of ATP in energetic organs such as heart and skeletal muscle. Creatine depletion affects force generation during maximal stimulation, while reduced levels of myocardial creatine are a hallmark of the failing heart, leading to the widely held view that creatine is important at high workloads and under conditions of pathological stress. Objective: We therefore hypothesised that the consequences of creatine-deficiency in mice would be impaired running capacity, and exacerbation of heart failure following myocardial infarction. Methods and Results: Surprisingly, mice with whole-body creatine deficiency due to knockout of the biosynthetic enzyme (guanidinoacetate N-methyltransferase - GAMT) voluntarily ran just as fast and as far as controls (>10km/night) and performed the same level of work when tested to exhaustion on a treadmill. Furthermore, survival following myocardial infarction was not altered, nor was subsequent LV remodelling and development of chronic heart failure exacerbated, as measured by 3D-echocardiography and invasive hemodynamics. These findings could not be accounted for by compensatory adaptations, with no differences detected between WT and GAMT(-/-) proteomes. Alternative phosphotransfer mechanisms were explored; adenylate kinase activity was unaltered, and although GAMT(-/-) hearts accumulated the creatine pre-cursor guanidinoacetate, this had negligible energy-transfer activity, while mitochondria retained near normal function. Conclusions: Creatine-deficient mice show unaltered maximal exercise capacity and response to chronic myocardial infarction, and no obvious metabolic adaptations. Our results question the paradigm that creatine is essential for high workload and chronic stress responses in heart and skeletal muscle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)945-955
Number of pages11
JournalCirculation Research
Issue number6
Early online date16 Jan 2013
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2013


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