Effect of creatine, creatinine, and creatine ethyl ester on TLR expression in macrophages

Korey M. Leland, Thomas L. McDonald, Kristen M. Drescher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Despite the widespread availability and use of dietary supplements, minimal work has been performed to assess the potential dangers many of these supplements may have on the host's well-being, in particular the host's ability to respond to infection. One supplement extensively used by both adolescents and adults is creatine. Using Real-time PCR, we examined the impact of short-term exposure of a mouse macrophage cell line (RAW 264.7 cells) to two readily available forms of creatine used in supplements - creatine monohydrate (CR) and creatine ethyl ester (CEE) as well as the end product of creatine metabolism, creatinine (CRN), on expression of toll-like receptor-2 (TLR-2), TLR-3, TLR-4, and TLR-7. CR down-regulated TLR-2, TLR-3, TLR-4 and TLR-7 mRNA levels in RAW cells. Similar results were observed following exposure of RAW cells to CRN. Conversely CEE appears to possess immunostimulatory properties and increases expression of TLR-2, TLR-3, TLR-4, and TLR-7 in RAW cells. These data are supported by immunostaining using antibodies specific for the individual TLRs before and after exposure of RAW cells to CR, CRN, or CEE. To extend these findings, we isolated murine splenocytes and exposed the cells to CR, CEE, or CRN for 24 hours and performed immunofluorescent staining for TLR-2, TLR-3, TLR-4 and TLR-7. The results obtained from this study with primary splenocytes were consistent with the studies using RAW cells. Together, these data suggest that creatine and creatine derivatives may impact the ability of immune cells to sense a wide array of viral and bacterial pathogens. Of great interest, CRN - largely considered to be a waste product of the argenine biosynthesis pathway may also have immunosuppressive properties similar to those of CR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1341-1347
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Immunopharmacology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Creatine
  • Creatine ethyl ester
  • Creatinine
  • Toll-like receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


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