Beyond muscles: The untapped potential of creatine

Int Immunopharmacol. 2016 Aug;37:31-42. doi: 10.1016/j.intimp.2015.12.034. Epub 2016 Jan 8.


Creatine is widely used by both elite and recreational athletes as an ergogenic aid to enhance anaerobic exercise performance. Older individuals also use creatine to prevent sarcopenia and, accordingly, may have therapeutic benefits for muscle wasting diseases. Although the effect of creatine on the musculoskeletal system has been extensively studied, less attention has been paid to its potential effects on other physiological systems. Because there is a significant pool of creatine in the brain, the utility of creatine supplementation has been examined in vitro as well as in vivo in both animal models of neurological disorders and in humans. While the data are preliminary, there is evidence to suggest that individuals with certain neurological conditions may benefit from exogenous creatine supplementation if treatment protocols can be optimized. A small number of studies that have examined the impact of creatine on the immune system have shown an alteration in soluble mediator production and the expression of molecules involved in recognizing infections, specifically toll-like receptors. Future investigations evaluating the total impact of creatine supplementation are required to better understand the benefits and risks of creatine use, particularly since there is increasing evidence that creatine may have a regulatory impact on the immune system.

Keywords: Creatine; Immune response; Immunomodulation; Neuroprotection.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / metabolism
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Athletes
  • Central Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Creatine / metabolism
  • Creatine / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Neuroprotection / drug effects*
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / metabolism
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances / pharmacology
  • Sarcopenia / drug therapy


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Performance-Enhancing Substances
  • Creatine