Creatine supplementation augments the increase in satellite cell and myonuclei number in human skeletal muscle induced by strength training

J Physiol. 2006 Jun 1;573(Pt 2):525-34. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2006.107359. Epub 2006 Mar 31.


The present study investigated the influence of creatine and protein supplementation on satellite cell frequency and number of myonuclei in human skeletal muscle during 16 weeks of heavy-resistance training. In a double-blinded design 32 healthy, male subjects (19-26 years) were assigned to strength training (STR) while receiving a timed intake of creatine (STR-CRE) (n=9), protein (STR-PRO) (n=8) or placebo (STR-CON) (n=8), or serving as a non-training control group (CON) (n=7). Supplementation was given daily (STR-CRE: 6-24 g creatine monohydrate, STR-PRO: 20 g protein, STR-CON: placebo). Furthermore, timed protein/placebo intake were administered at all training sessions. Muscle biopsies were obtained at week 0, 4, 8 (week 8 not CON) and 16 of resistance training (3 days per week). Satellite cells were identified by immunohistochemistry. Muscle mean fibre (MFA) area was determined after histochemical analysis. All training regimes were found to increase the proportion of satellite cells, but significantly greater enhancements were observed with creatine supplementation at week 4 (compared to STR-CON) and at week 8 (compared to STR-PRO and STR-CON) (P<0.01-0.05). At week 16, satellite cell number was no longer elevated in STR-CRE, while it remained elevated in STR-PRO and STR-CON. Furthermore, creatine supplementation resulted in an increased number of myonuclei per fibre and increases of 14-17% in MFA at week 4, 8 and 16 (P<0.01). In contrast, STR-PRO showed increase in MFA only in the later (16 week, +8%) and STR-CON only in the early (week 4, +14%) phases of training, respectively (P<0.05). In STR-CRE a positive relationship was found between the percentage increases in MFA and myonuclei from baseline to week 16, respectively (r=0.67, P<0.05). No changes were observed in the control group (CON). In conclusion, the present study demonstrates for the first time that creatine supplementation in combination with strength training amplifies the training-induced increase in satellite cell number and myonuclei concentration in human skeletal muscle fibres, thereby allowing an enhanced muscle fibre growth in response to strength training.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Nucleus / drug effects*
  • Cell Nucleus / physiology
  • Creatine / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Satellite Cells, Skeletal Muscle / drug effects*
  • Satellite Cells, Skeletal Muscle / physiology
  • Weight Lifting / physiology*


  • Creatine