From NADPARK to NOPARK

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Researchers in Norway recently published the results of a small pilot study investigating the therapeutic potential of a form of Vitamin B3 – called nicotinamide riboside – in people with Parkinson’s.

The results of that randomised, double-blind study were encouraging as they demonstrated that orally-administered nicotinamide riboside treatment could boost energy levels in the brain and reduce the amount of inflammatory signaling.

The study was small, but provides strong justification for a much larger, ongoing Phase II clinical trial evaluating the disease modifying potential of nicotinamide riboside in 400 people with Parkinson’s.

In today’s post, we will discuss what nicotinamide riboside is, review the results of the published study, and explore what the ongoing trial looks like.

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Tromso, Norway (best new year’s eve ever!). Source: Outdooractive

As you read, you may notice that there is a slight Norwegian theme running through today’s post.

And it begins with Conrad Elvehjem:

Conrad Elvehjem. Source: Aboutnad

Who was Conrad Elvehjem?

He was the son of Norwegian emigrants to the US, and in 1937, he published this report:

Title: The isolation and identification of the anti-black tongue factor. 1937 (reprinted).
Authors: Elvehjem CA, Madden RJ, Strong FM, Wolley DW.
Journal: J Biol Chem. 2002 Aug 23;277(34):e22.
PMID: 12243127              (This report is OPEN ACCESS if you would like to read it)

In this study, Elvehem and colleagues noted that when dogs get pellagra (a vitamin B₃ deficiency disease) due to a poor diet, their tongues would turn black. This curious feature provided the researchers with an assay to test different food extracts on the dogs and see which ones could rescue the animals from the “black tongue disease”.

Their efforts led to the discovery of two vitamins – Nicotinic acid (also known as niacin) and nicotinamide – which cured the “black tongue disease” in the dogs. They are both forms of “vitamin B3” and they are now recognised as precursors of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (or NAD+).

What is –

We’ll come to that in a minute. Just let me get the intro out of the way.

The discovery of two forms of vitamin B3 was remarkable. But it was what happened 67 years later that was even more remarkable, and it was announced in this study:

Title: Discoveries of nicotinamide riboside as a nutrient and conserved NRK genes establish a Preiss-Handler independent route to NAD+ in fungi and humans.
Authors: Bieganowski P, Brenner C.
Journal: Cell. 2004 May 14;117(4):495-502.
PMID: 15137942            (This report is OPEN ACCESS if you would like to read it)

In this study, the researchers announced the discovery of a third form of vitamin B3 and another precursor to NAD+.

That new precursor was nicotinamide riboside.

Ok, stop. What is nicotinamide riboside? And what is NAD+ and nicotinamide ade…nine dinuc…stuff?

Continue reading “From NADPARK to NOPARK”

To B3 or not to B3, that is the question

The results of a recent clinical study for Parkinson’s conducted in Georgia (USA) has grabbed the attention of some readers.

The study involved Niacin (also known as nicotinic acid), which is a naturally occurring organic dietary compound and a form of vitamin B3.

The study was very small, but the researchers noticed something interesting in the blood of the participants: Niacin was apparently switching some of the immune cells from an inflammatory state to an anti-inflammatory state.

In today’s post, we will discuss what Niacin is, how it relates to Parkinson’s, and we will consider some of the issues with having too much niacin in your diet.


Source: Universal

It is one of the most common requests I get:

“Can you give an opinion on this supplement ____ or that vitamin ____ as a treatment for Parkinson’s?”

And I don’t like giving opinions, because (my standard disclosure) “I am not a clinician, just a research scientist. And even if i was a clinician, it would be unethical for me to comment as I am not familiar with each individual’s medical history. The best person to speak to is your personal doctor“.

But I also don’t like giving opinions because of a terrible fear that if I write anything remotely positive about anything remotely supplemental or vitamintal (is that a word?), a small portion of readers will rush off and gorge themselves on anything that sounds remotely similar to that supplement or vitamin.

So you will hopefully understand why I am hesitant to write this post.

But having said that, the recently published results of a small clinical study conducted in Augusta (Georgia, USA) are rather interesting.

Continue reading “To B3 or not to B3, that is the question”