Published in the October issue of the Journal of Nutrition, the study found rats fed a high-fat diet (71% calories derived from fat, 18% protein, 11% carbohydrate) and supplemented with creatine had reduced liver problems compared to control groups after three weeks.
After three weeks, liver samples were assessed for their contents of fat, creatine, and other substances thought to be involved in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Non-alcoholic liver health measures such as cellular oxidative stress associated with inflammation; reduced S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) levels (a compound linked to immunity) and healthy neural activity were all improved in the creatine group.
“The difference in fat accumulation between liver sections from the HF and HFC groups was confirmed by image analysis. Ingestion of the HF diet increased plasma glucose, which was partially reversed by creatine supplementation. The plasma insulin concentration did not differ among the groups.”
The researchers, from Memorial University of Newfoundland, the University of Sao Paulo and the University of Alberta highlighted the affect of creatine on peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) - nuclear receptor proteins involved in the regulation of the expression of genes.
The authors said PPARs were crucial in preventing steatosis and fat-related oxidative stress and inflammation via effects on fatty acid catabolism.
‘To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first to demonstrate the regulation of PPARs expression and its downstream targets by creatine.”
However they acknowledged that the dosages among the rats (3.1g/kg) was significantly higher than that typically used in human tests (0.3g/kg).
UK-based creatine researcher Dr Mark Tallon, PhD, from the NutriSciences consultancy, agreed it was difficult to extrapolate the results of the animal study to humans.
“They are interesting findings but how relevant are they to humans?” Dr Tallon wondered.
“We know rats metabolise fats in a different way to humans as evident in studies looking at medium chain triglycerides and their use as a fuel source and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) as a weight management aid. Is a '71% calories from fat' diet externally valid in relation to the way humans consume food – I would suggest not.
Therefore, the study is interesting if you’re a rat on a high fat diet.”
Journal of Nutrition
October 2011 (141:1799-1804, 2011.)
‘Creatine supplementation prevents the accumulation of fat in the livers of rats fed a high-fat diet’
Authors: Deminice R, da Silva RP, Lamarre SG, Brown C, Furey GN, McCarter SA, Jordae AA, Kelly KB, King-Jones K, Jacobs RL, Brosnan ME, Brosnan JT.