Exocytotic release of creatine in rat brain

Synapse. 2006 Aug;60(2):118-23. doi: 10.1002/syn.20280.


The guanidino compound creatine has been shown to occur throughout the brain affecting energy metabolism and mental performance and to act at central GABAA receptors as a partial agonist. Therefore, we examined the possibility that creatine may in fact represent a neuromodulator that is released in the brain in an action-potential dependent manner. To that end, we studied the uptake of [3H]creatine and its electrically evoked release from superfused rat brain slices as well as the evoked release of endogenously synthesized creatine. [3H]creatine was accumulated in neocortex slices in a Na+-dependent manner, consistent with the involvement of the Na+-dependent SLC6A8 creatine transporter. Most importantly, the electrically evoked release of [3H]creatine from neocortex slices (like that from caudate putamen and hippocampus slices) as well as the evoked release of endogenous (unlabeled) creatine was abolished when Ca2+ was omitted from the superfusion medium or in the presence of the Na+-channel blocker tetrodotoxin (TTX). Moreover, blockade of K+-channels by 4-aminopyridine (4-AP) strongly enhanced the electrically evoked release of [3H]creatine as well as that of endogenous creatine. These in vitro data indicate that creatine is not only synthesized and taken up by central neurons, but also released in an action-potential dependent (exocytotic) manner, providing strong evidence for its role as a neuromodulator in the brain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / drug effects
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Creatine / metabolism*
  • Creatine / pharmacology
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Exocytosis / drug effects
  • Exocytosis / physiology*
  • GABA Agonists / metabolism
  • GABA Agonists / pharmacology
  • GABA-A Receptor Agonists
  • Male
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Potassium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, GABA-A / metabolism
  • Sodium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Sodium Channels / drug effects
  • Sodium Channels / metabolism
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Tritium


  • GABA Agonists
  • GABA-A Receptor Agonists
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Potassium Channel Blockers
  • Receptors, GABA-A
  • Sodium Channel Blockers
  • Sodium Channels
  • creatine transporter
  • Tritium
  • Creatine
  • Calcium