Creatine and creatine deficiency syndromes: biochemical and clinical aspects

Pediatr Neurol. 2010 Mar;42(3):163-71. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2009.07.015.


Creatine deficiency syndromes, which have only recently been described, represent a group of inborn errors of creatine synthesis (L-arginine-glycine amidinotransferase deficiency and guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency) and transport (creatine transporter deficiency). Patients with creatine deficiency syndromes present with mental retardation expressive speech and language delay, and epilepsy. Patients with guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency or creatine transporter deficiency may exhibit autistic behavior. The common denominator of these disorders is the depletion of the brain creatine pool, as demonstrated by in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy. For diagnosis, laboratory investigations start with analysis of guanidinoacetate, creatine, and creatinine in plasma and urine. Based on these findings, enzyme assays or DNA mutation analysis may be performed. The creatine deficiency syndromes are underdiagnosed, so the possibility should be considered in all children affected by unexplained mental retardation, seizures, and speech delay. Guanidinoacetate methyltransferase deficiency and arginine-glycine amidinotransferase deficiency are treatable by oral creatine supplementation, but patients with creatine transporter deficiency do not respond to this type of treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amidinotransferases / deficiency
  • Amino Acid Metabolism, Inborn Errors / diagnosis*
  • Autistic Disorder / genetics
  • Child
  • Creatine / blood
  • Creatine / deficiency*
  • Creatine / urine
  • Epilepsy / genetics
  • Guanidinoacetate N-Methyltransferase / genetics
  • Guanidinoacetate N-Methyltransferase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability / genetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Movement Disorders / genetics
  • Point Mutation / genetics


  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • creatine transporter
  • GAMT protein, human
  • Guanidinoacetate N-Methyltransferase
  • Amidinotransferases
  • glycine amidinotransferase
  • Creatine