This study attempted to determine the relationship between creatine (Cr) accumulation in human skeletal muscle and erythrocytes following Cr supplementation. If a strong relationship exists, a blood test might provide a practical, less invasive alternative than muscle biopsy for evaluating cellular Cr accumulation. Eighteen active, but not well-trained males were supplemented with Cr (4 × 5g/d) for 5 d. Muscle biopsies (vastus lateralis) were obtained pre- and post-loading and analyzed for Cr, phosphocreatine (PCr), and total Cr (TCr) content. Venous blood was also drawn at these times to determine erythrocyte Cr concentrations. Muscle Cr, PCr, and TCr concentrations were elevated (P < 0.05) by 39.8%, 7.5%, and 20.1% respectively following supplementation. Erythrocyte Cr concentrations were also elevated (P < 0.01) following the loading period, although to a greater relative degree than tissue concentrations (129.6%). Pre- and post-loading erythrocyte Cr concentrations were poorly and nonsignificantly correlated with that observed in skeletal muscle. Further, loading-mediated increases in erythrocyte Cr concentrations were poorly correlated with elevations in muscle Cr (r = 0.07), PCr (r = 0.06) or TCr (r = 0.04) concentrations. Erythrocyte Cr concentrations can be augmented by 5 d of Cr supplementation, however, this elevation does not reflect that observed in skeletal muscle obtained by muscle biopsy. Consequently, erythrocyte response to Cr loading is not a reliable measure of skeletal muscle Cr/TCr accumulation.
Preen, Dawson, and Goodman are with the School of Human Movement and Exercise Science, The University of Western Australia, Crawley WA 6009 Australia; Dawson is also with the university’s School of Population Health. Beilby and Ching are with the The Western Australian Centre for Pathology and Medical Research, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Nedlands WA 6907 Australia.