Can the use of creatine supplementation attenuate muscle loss in cachexia and wasting?
Purpose of review Weight loss and low BMI due to an underlying illness have been associated with increased mortality, reduced functional capacity, and diminished quality of life. There is a need for well tolerated, long-term approaches to maintain body weight in patients with cachexia or wasting. The purpose of this review is to highlight the scientific and clinical evidence derived from the recent literature investigating the rationale for and potential medical use of creatine supplementation in patients with cachexia or wasting. Recent findings Some studies have demonstrated that supplementation with creatine can increase creatine reserves in skeletal muscle and increase muscle mass and performance in various disease states that affect muscle size and function. The mechanisms underlying these effects are not clear. It has been suggested that creatine supplementation may increase intramuscular phosphocreatine stores and promote more rapid recovery of adenosine triphosphate levels following exercise, thus allowing users to exercise for longer periods or at higher intensity levels. Other hypothesized mechanisms include attenuation of proinflammatory cytokines, stimulation of satellite cell proliferation and upregulation of genes that promote protein synthesis and cell repair. Summary Creatine is a generally well tolerated, low-cost, over-the-counter nutritional supplement that shows potential in improving lean body mass and functionality in patients with wasting diseases. However, placebo-controlled studies have shown variable effects, with improvements in some and not in others. Additional studies with longer follow-up are required to identify the populations that might benefit most from creatine supplementation.