Transport of creatine in the mouse liver has been investigated in vivo and in the perfused organ. Experiments were carried out with transgenic mice expressing creatine kinase in the liver (brain isoenzyme CKBB; EC [Koretsky, Brosnan, Chen, Chen and Van Dyke (1990) Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 87, 3112-3116] and in the corresponding control mice. The animals were fed a regular chow with or without the addition of 10% creatine (w/w) for 5 days. The kinetics of creatine uptake was measured in the perfused liver by 31P-n.m.r. spectroscopy and biochemical analysis following infusion of creatine at concentrations ranging over 0-15 mM and at an extracellular pH of either 7.40 or 6.40. The results suggest that creatine is actively transported by a pH-dependent mechanism obeying a saturable Michaelis-Menten type of kinetics (Km = 0.80 +/- 0.18 and 5.12 +/- 2.40 mM; Vmax. = 0.57 +/- 0.04 and 1.72 +/- 0.32 mumol.g of liver-1.min-1 at pH 7.40 and 6.40 respectively). Creatine export was evaluated in the perfused liver preloaded with creatine and the results show that less than 2.5 and 5% of the total creatine pool is exported to the perfusate during 80 min of perfusion at pH 7.40 and 6.40 respectively. Taken together, these results seem to explain the observation that creatine accumulates in the mouse liver only when blood creatine is raised by creatine feeding.

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