Treatment with Creatine Monohydrate in Spinal and Bulbar Muscular Atrophy: Protocol for a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial

JMIR Res Protoc. 2018 Mar 5;7(3):e69. doi: 10.2196/resprot.8655.


Background: Although spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) has been classified as a motor neuron disease, several reports have indicated the primary involvement of skeletal muscle in the pathogenesis of this devastating disease. Recent studies reported decreased intramuscular creatine levels in skeletal muscles in both patients with SBMA and transgenic mouse models of SBMA, which appears to contribute to muscle weakness.

Objective: The present study aimed to examine the efficacy and safety of oral creatine supplementation to improve motor function in patients with SBMA.

Methods: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, three-armed clinical trial was conducted to assess the safety and efficacy of creatine therapy in patients with SBMA. Patients with SBMA eligible for this study were assigned randomly in a 1:1:1 ratio to each group of placebo, 10 g, or 15 g daily dose of creatine monohydrate in a double-blind fashion. Participants took creatine or placebo orally 3 times a day for 8 weeks. Outcome measurements were results of neurological assessments, examinations, and questionnaires collected at baseline and at weeks 4, 8, and 16 after a washout period. The primary endpoint was the change in handgrip strength values from baseline to week 8. The secondary endpoints included the following: results of maximum voluntary isometric contraction tests of extremities; tongue pressure; results of the 15-foot timed walk test and the rise from bed test; modified quantitative myasthenia gravis score; respiratory function test results; activities of daily living assessed with the Revised Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale and the Spinal and Bulbar Muscular Atrophy Functional Rating Scale; skeletal muscle mass measured with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; urinary 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine levels; and questionnaires examining the quality of life, swallowing function, and fatigue.

Results: Participant enrollment in the trial started from June 2014 and follow-up was completed in July 2015. The study is currently being analyzed.

Conclusions: This is the first clinical trial evaluating creatine therapy in SBMA. Given that creatine serves as an energy source in skeletal muscles, recovery of intramuscular creatine concentration is expected to improve muscle strength.

Trial registration: University Hospital Medical Information Network Clinical Trials Registry UMIN000012503; (Archived by WebCite at

Keywords: creatine; randomized controlled trials; spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy.