Creatine diet supplement for spinal cord injury: Influences on functional recovery and tissue sparing in rats

Alexander G. Rabchevsky, Patrick G. Sullivan, Isabella Fugaccia, Stephen W. Scheff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Creatine-supplemented diet significantly attenuates cortical damage after traumatic brain injury in rodents. The protective mechanism likely involves maintenance of mitochondrial homeostasis. In the present study, we used two separate contusion spinal cord injury (SCI) instruments - the NYU device and the PSI Infinite Horizon (IH) impactor® - to assess the efficacy of creatine-supplemented diets on hind limb functional recovery and tissue sparing in adult rats. Rats were fed control versus 2% creatine-supplemented chow for 4-5 weeks prior to SCI (pre-fed), after which most resumed a control diet while some remained on a 2% creatine diet (pre & post-fed). Following long-term behavioral analysis (BBB), the amount of spared spinal cord tissue among the dietary regimen groups was assessed using stereology. Comparatively, both instruments caused similar amounts of gray matter damage while the NYU device rendered a greater loss of white matter, reflected in more severe hind limb functional deficits than with the IH impactor. Relative to the control fed groups injured with either instrument, none of the creatine fed animals showed improvements in hind limb function or white matter tissue sparing. Although creatine did not attenuate gray matter loss in the NYU cohort, it significantly spared gray matter in the IH cohort with pre-fed and pre & post-fed regimens. Such selective sparing of injured spinal cord gray matter with a dietary supplement yields a promising strategy to promote neuroprotection after SCI. The relationship between the efficacy of creatine and the magnitude of the insults is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-669
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neurotrauma
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2003


  • Neuroprotection
  • Rat
  • Stereology
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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