Canadian journal of applied physiology = Revue canadienne de physiologie appliquée vol:26 Suppl pages:S79-102
The effect of oral creatine supplementation on high-intensity exercise performance has been extensively studied over the past ten years and its ergogenic potential in young healthy subjects is now well documented. Recently, research has shifted from performance evaluation towards elucidating the mechanisms underlying enhanced muscle functional capacity after creatine supplementation. In this review, we attempt to summarise recent advances in the understanding of potential mechanisms of action of creatine supplementation at the level of skeletal muscle cells. By increasing intracellular creatine content, oral creatine ingestion conceivably stimulates operation of the creatine kinase (CK)/phosphocreatine (PCr) system, which in turn facilitates muscle relaxation. Furthermore, evidence is accumulating to suggest that creatine supplementation can beneficially impact on muscle protein and glycogen synthesis. Thus, muscle hypertrophy and glycogen supercompensation are candidate factors to explain the ergogenic potential of creatine ingestion. Additional issues discussed in this review are the fibre-type specificity of muscle creatine metabolism, the identification of responders versus non-responders to creatine intake, and the scientific background concerning potential side effects of creatine supplementation.