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Feb. 7 (UPI) — A form of Vitamin B3 improved cognitive and physical function in mice with Alzheimer’s disease-like symptoms in experiments, the National Institutes of Health report in a new study.

The effects of the supplement nicotinamide riboside, a form of Vitamin B3, when given to mice suggests a new method for treating Alzheimer’s disease, researchers at the National Institute on Aging, a NIH agency, reported on Tuesday.

In Alzheimer’s disease, the brain’s usual DNA repair activity is impaired, leading to mitochondrial dysfunction, lower neuron production and increased neuronal dysfunction and inflammation. Nicotinamide riboside, or NR, normalizes levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, a metabolite vital to cellular energy, stem cell self-renewal, resistance to neuronal stress and DNA repair.

In the study, NR-treated mice showed less DNA damage, higher neuroplasticity, increased production of new neurons from neuronal stem cells and lower levels of neuronal damage and death. In the hippocampus area of the brain, where damage and loss of volume can be found in dementia patients, the addition of NR appeared to either clear existing DNA damage or prevent it from spreading further.

“We are encouraged by these findings that see an effect in this Alzheimer’s disease model,” Dr. Vilhelm Bohr, leader of the international team of NIH scientists, said in a press release. “We are looking forward to further testing of how NR or similar compounds might be pursued for their possible therapeutic benefit for people with dementia.”

The study, published Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Scientists, said the research indicates that cellular interventions such as NR should be studied for their therapeutic potential for Alzheimer’s patients.