Hypoxia decreases creatine uptake in cardiomyocytes, while creatine supplementation enhances HIF activation

Physiol Rep. 2017 Aug;5(16):e13382. doi: 10.14814/phy2.13382.


Creatine (Cr), phosphocreatine (PCr), and creatine kinases (CK) comprise an energy shuttle linking ATP production in mitochondria with cellular consumption sites. Myocytes cannot synthesize Cr: these cells depend on uptake across the cell membrane by a specialized creatine transporter (CrT) to maintain intracellular Cr levels. Hypoxia interferes with energy metabolism, including the activity of the creatine energy shuttle, and therefore affects intracellular ATP and PCr levels. Here, we report that exposing cultured cardiomyocytes to low oxygen levels rapidly diminishes Cr transport by decreasing Vmax and Km Pharmacological activation of AMP-activated kinase (AMPK) abrogated the reduction in Cr transport caused by hypoxia. Cr supplementation increases ATP and PCr content in cardiomyocytes subjected to hypoxia, while also significantly augmenting the cellular adaptive response to hypoxia mediated by HIF-1 activation. Our results indicate that: (1) hypoxia reduces Cr transport in cardiomyocytes in culture, (2) the cytoprotective effects of Cr supplementation are related to enhanced adaptive physiological responses to hypoxia mediated by HIF-1, and (3) Cr supplementation increases the cellular ATP and PCr content in RNCMs exposed to hypoxia.

Keywords: AMP‐activated kinase; cardiac metabolism; creatine; hypoxia adaptation; membrane transport.

MeSH terms

  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cell Hypoxia
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Creatine / metabolism*
  • Creatine / pharmacology
  • Hypoxia / metabolism*
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 / genetics
  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1 / metabolism*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / drug effects
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Protein Kinases / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Hypoxia-Inducible Factor 1
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Protein Kinases
  • AMP-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • Creatine
  • Oxygen