Nicotinamide, the amide form of niacin (vitamin B3), is the precursor for the coenzyme β-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) and plays a significant role during the enhancement of cell survival as well as cell longevity. Yet, these abilities of nicotinamide appear to be diametrically opposed. Here we describe the development of nicotinamide as a novel agent that is critical for modulating cellular metabolism, plasticity, longevity, and inflammatory microglial function as well as for influencing cellular life span. The capacity of nicotinamide to govern not only intrinsic cellular integrity, but also extrinsic cellular inflammation rests with the modulation of a host of cellular targets that involve mitochondrial membrane potential, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase, protein kinase B (Akt), Forkhead transcription factors, Bad, caspases, and microglial activation. Further knowledge acquired in regards to the ability of nicotinamide to foster cellular survival and regulate cellular lifespan should significantly promote the development of therapies against a host of disorders, such as aging, Alzheimers disease, diabetes, cerebral ischemia, Parkinsons disease, and cancer.
Keywords: Akt, Alzheimer's disease, apoptosis, caspases, diabetes, erythropoietin, Huntington's disease, microglia, NAD+, Parkinson's disease
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