Effect of creatine monohydrate in improving cellular energetics and muscle strength in ambulatory Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients: a randomized, placebo-controlled 31P MRS study

Magn Reson Imaging. 2010 Jun;28(5):698-707. doi: 10.1016/j.mri.2010.03.008. Epub 2010 Apr 15.


Randomized, placebo-controlled single blinded study was carried out to evaluate the effect of oral creatine supplementation on cellular energetics, manual muscle test (MMT) score and functional status in steroid-naive, ambulatory boys suffering with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD; n=33). Eighteen patients received creatine monohydrate (Cr; 5 g/day for 8 weeks), while 15 received placebo (500 mg of vitamin C). Phosphorus metabolite ratios were determined from the right calf muscle of patients using phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((31)P MRS) both prior to (baseline) and after supplementation of Cr or placebo. In addition, metabolite ratios were determined in normal calf muscle of age and sex matched controls (n=8). Significant differences in several metabolite ratios were observed between controls and DMD patients indicating a lower energy state in these patients. Analysis using analysis of covariance adjusted for age and stature showed that the mean phosphocreatine (PCr)/inorganic phosphate (Pi) ratio in patients treated with Cr (4.7; 95% CI; 3.9-5.6) was significantly higher (P=.03) compared to the placebo group (3.3; 95% CI; 2.5-4.2). The mean percentage increase in PCr/Pi ratio was also more in patients <7 years of age compared to older patients after Cr supplementation indicating variation in therapeutic effect with the age. In the placebo group, significant reduction in PCr/Pi (P=.0009), PCr/t-ATP (P=.05) and an increase in phosphodiester (PDE)/PCr ratios was observed after supplementation. Further, in the placebo group, patients <7 years showed reduction of PCr/t-ATP and Pi/t-ATP compared to older patients (>7 years), after supplementation. These results imply that the significant difference observed in PCr/Pi ratio between the Cr and the placebo groups after supplementation may be attributed to a decrease of PCr in the placebo group and an increase in PCr in the Cr group. Changes in MMT score between the two groups was significant (P=.04); however, no change in functional scale (P=.19) was observed. Parents reported subjective improvement on Cr supplementation versus worsening in placebo (P=.02). Our results indicated that Cr was well tolerated and oral Cr significantly improved the muscle PCr/Pi ratio and preserved the muscle strength in short term. However, this study provides no evidence that creatine will prove beneficial after long-term treatment, or have any positive effect on patient lifespan.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Creatine / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy / methods*
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / drug therapy*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / metabolism*
  • Phosphorus / analysis
  • Phosphorus / metabolism*
  • Phosphorus Isotopes / analysis
  • Placebo Effect


  • Phosphorus Isotopes
  • Phosphorus
  • Creatine