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Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Nov;108(2):193-207. Epub 2005 Aug 1.

The therapeutic role of creatine in Huntington's disease.

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  • 1Experimental Neuropathology Unit and Translational Therapeutics Laboratory, Geriatric Research Education Clinical Center, Bedford VA Medical Center, MA 01730, USA.


Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant and fatal neurological disorder characterized by a clinical triad of progressive choreiform movements, psychiatric symptoms, and cognitive decline. HD is caused by an expanded trinucleotide CAG repeat in the gene coding for the protein huntingtin. No proven treatment to prevent the onset or to delay the progression of HD currently exists. While a direct causative pathway from the gene mutation to the selective neostriatal neurodegeneration remains unclear, it has been hypothesized that interactions of the mutant huntingtin protein or its fragments may result in a number of interrelated pathogenic mechanisms triggering a cascade of molecular events that lead to the untimely neuronal death observed in HD. One putative pathological mechanism reported to play a prominent role in the pathogenesis of HD is mitochondrial dysfunction and the subsequent reduction of cellular energy. Indeed, if mitochondrial impairment and reduced energy stores play roles in the neuronal loss in HD, then a therapeutic strategy that buffers intracellular energy levels may ameliorate the neurodegenerative process. Sustained ATP levels may have both direct and indirect importance in ameliorating the severity of many of the pathogenic mechanisms associated with HD. Creatine, a guanidino compound produced endogenously and acquired exogenously through diet, is a critical component in maintaining much needed cellular energy. As such, creatine is one of a number of ergogens that may provide a relatively safe and immediately available therapeutic strategy to HD patients that may be the cornerstone of a combined treatment necessary to delay the relentless progression of HD.

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