Vitamin B3 has been found to prevent memory loss in test subjects with Alzheimer's disease, according to new research from UC Irvine. It appears that Nicotinamide (a form of B3) acts to significantly lower levels of the protein that leads to the development of tangles, one of the two brain lesions of Alzheimer's. The vitamin also strengthened microtubules, the connections of brain cells that information travels along, and helps to keep the neurons alive.
"Microtubules are like highways inside cells. What we're doing with nicotinamide is making a wider, more stable highway," said Kim Green, UCI scientist and lead author of the study. "In Alzheimer's disease, this highway breaks down. We are preventing that from happening."
All of the test results thus far have been published in the the most recent Journal of Neuroscience, and studies are pushing forward, moving the experiments from animal populations to large-scale interventions for sufferers of the disease. Nicotinamide is an over-the-counter supplement, part of the B3 family. It is a HDAC (Histone deacetylase) inhibitor; HDACs have recently been shown to protect the central nervous system in other research involving Parkinson's and Huntington's diseases.
It appears that the vitamin may have positive implications beyond these disorders as well: In addition to combating the effects of the above mentioned diseases, nicotinamide has been shown to slightly enhance cognitive abilities in unaffiliated test subjects. "This suggests that not only is it good for Alzheimer's disease, but if normal people take it, some aspects of their memory might improve," said Frank LaFerla, UCI neurobiology and behavior professor.
Journal of Neuroscience: Nicotinamide Restores Cognition in Alzheimer's Disease
Eureka Alert: Vitamin B3 reduces Alzheimer's symptoms, lesions