Does vitamin B3 help against multiple sclerosis?
Physicians at the Children's Hospital in Boston were able to prevent the severe course of the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis in a mouse model by injecting the animals with high doses of the vitamin nicotinamide (niacin, formerly also known as vitamin B3). The treated animals subsequently developed paralysis and disability in their limbs at a later time than an unmedicated control group. Also, the nature of the disabilities was less intense.
For their studies, the scientists infected the mice with experimental allergic encephalomyelitis, which is considered a variant of multiple sclerosis. They were then injected with different doses of nicotinamide every day. They discovered that the higher the dose of vitamin administered, the weaker the after-effects of the disease. The effect also occurred when the researchers started treatment at a later point in time, i.e. the disease was more advanced.
In multiple sclerosis, inflammation attacks the insulating myelin lining of nerve cells, causing neurons to degenerate. This reduces the ability of the nerve cells to conduct electrical impulses, which ultimately causes fatigue, movement and coordination disorders, spasticity and emotional and cognitive changes in the patient.
By administering nicotinamide, the concentration of the coenzyme NAD increased in the experiment, which both reduced this inflammation and protected nerves that had already been damaged from further deterioration.
However, very high doses of the vitamin would have to be administered for human treatment. Since this can also lead to side effects, the researchers believe that some tests still need to be carried out. However, the scientists hope to use their discovery to develop a treatment option for the advanced stages of the disease. So far, multiple sclerosis can only be treated in its early stages, thereby alleviating and delaying the symptoms in the short term. However, current treatments are associated with strong side effects and cannot completely stop the disease.