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Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2001 Jan 31;86(1-2):193-201.

Endogenous synthesis and transport of creatine in the rat brain: an in situ hybridization study.

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Central Clinical Chemistry Laboratory, University Hospital, CH-1011, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Creatine is synthesized from arginine by L-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) and S-adenosyl-L-methionine:N-guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GAMT) and can be taken up by cells by creatine transporters (CRT). While creatine is mainly synthesized by the liver and the kidney, most of other tissues, including the brain, also express AGAT and GAMT. There is evidence that the permeability of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) for creatine is limited, suggesting that the brain is dependent on its own creatine synthesis. In order to better understand creatine synthesis and transport in the central nervous system (CNS), we studied the regional distribution of cells expressing AGAT, GAMT and the creatine transporter CRT1 in the adult rat brain by non-radioisotopic in situ hybridization. AGAT and GAMT presented an ubiquitous neuronal and glial expression, whereas CRT1 was present in neurons and oligodendrocytes throughout the brain, but not in astrocytes. This indicates that all cells in the CNS can synthesize creatine from arginine. The absence of expression of CRT1 in astrocytes and particularly in those contacting capillary endothelial cells (BBB) reinforces the idea that under normal conditions the creatine used by the brain is synthesized mainly in the CNS. Furthermore, the expression of CRT1 by neurons and oligodendrocytes indicates that creatine trafficking is possible in those brain areas of main creatine consumption.

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