Can a Vitamin Treat Multiple Sclerosis?
Monday, November 06, 2006 by: NaturalNews
[…]A team led by Shinjiro Kaneko […] worked with mice that had an MS-like disease called experimental autoimmune encephalitis (EAE). Through careful experiments, they showed that nicotinamide protected the animals’ axons from degeneration – not only preventing axon inflammation and myelin loss, but also protecting axons that had already lost their myelin from further degradation.
Intriguingly, mice with EAE who received daily nicotinamide injections under their skin had a delayed onset of neurologic disability, and the severity of their deficits was reduced for at least eight weeks after treatment. The greater the dose of nicotinamide, the greater the protective effect.
Mice with the greatest neurologic deficits had the lowest levels of NAD in their spinal cord, and those with the mildest deficits had the highest NAD levels. Mice that had higher levels of an enzyme that converts nicotinamide to NAD (known as Wlds mice) responded best to treatment.
Moreover, nicotinamide significantly reduced neurologic deficits even when treatment was delayed until 10 days after the induction of EAE, raising hope that it will also be effective in the later stages of MS. “The earlier therapy was started, the better the effect, but we hope nicotinamide can help patients who are already in the chronic stage,” says Kaneko.
NAD is used extensively by cells to produce energy through the breakdown of carbohydrates. Its chemical precursor, nicotinamide, has several characteristics that make it a promising therapeutic agent: it readily crosses the blood-brain barrier, is inexpensive and available in any drugstore, and its close relative, vitamin B3, is already used clinically to treat pellagra (vitamin B3 deficiency), high cholesterol, and other disorders. Although nicotinamide is thought to have few side effects, the doses used in mice would translate to much higher human doses than are normally used clinically, so would need to be tested for safety.