Do Creatine Supplements Increase the Activity of Muscle Stem Cells?

In skeletal muscle the stem cells are known as satellite cells (SC). They are located between the sarcolemma and the basal lamina of the muscle fiber. All the muscle growth posterior to birth occurs through myofiber hypertrophy, and concurrent with the increase in myofiber size muscle cells demonstrate an increased number of nuclei.

The source of the new myonuclei is satellite cells. These are normally in a non-proliferative state, but when stimulated during exercise they can proliferate and provide additional myonuclei to the enlarging muscle fibers, playing an important role in the growth of the adult skeletal muscle. 

Creatine affects satellite cell proliferation and differentiation in cell cultures. A study was done in 32 male subjects. They trained for 16 weeks and were given either creatine supplementation, protein only or placebo (no supplementation). Muscle biopsies were obtained prior to starting the training period, after 4, 8 and 16 weeks of heavy resistance strength training. 

The subjects with no supplementation had an increase in the number of satellite cells (muscle stem cells) of 44% after week 8. The group supplemented with protein had an increase of 61% and the one with creatine supplementation a 99% increase after 8 weeks. 

The proportion of increase in stem cells decreases with age and it also depends on the magnitude and type of training. Based on these studies, it is likely that strength training increases stem cell proportion more than endurance training.

Creatine is a supplement commonly used in the bodybuilding industry and based on evidence we can clearly see that it increases the activity of the satellite cells in the muscle causing an increase in both the activity and the number of them, leading to an increase in muscle mass.


Source: Olsen S, Aagaard P, Kadi F, et al. Creatine supplementation augments the increase in satellite cell and myonuclei number in human skeletal muscle induced by strength training [published correction appears in J Physiol. 2006 Sep 15;575(Pt 3):971]

Source link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1779717/