New interest in NAD biology has recently been revived, and enzymes involved in NAD biosynthetic pathways have been identified and characterized in mammals. Among them, nicotinamide phosphoribosyltransferase (Nampt) has drawn much attention in several different fields, including NAD biology, metabolism, and immunomodulatory response. The research history of this protein is peculiar and controversial, and its physiological function has been a matter of debate. Nampt has both intra- and extracellular forms in mammals. Intracellular Nampt (iNampt) is an essential enzyme in the NAD biosynthetic pathway starting from nicotinamide. On the other hand, an extracellular form of this protein has been reported to act as a cytokine named PBEF, an insulin-mimetic hormone named visfatin, or an extracellular NAD biosynthetic enzyme named eNampt. This review article summarizes the research history and reported functions of this unique protein and discusses the pathophysiological significance of Nampt as an NAD biosynthetic enzyme vs. a potential inflammatory cytokine in diverse biological contexts.
Keywords: Nampt, NAD biosynthesis, pancreatic β cells, metabolism, obesity, diabetes, aging, inflammatory cytokine, PBEF, visfatin
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