Nicotinamide protects human beta cells against chemically-induced necrosis, but not against cytokine-induced apoptosis

Diabetologia. 1999 Jan;42(1):55-9. doi: 10.1007/s001250051113.


Nicotinamide intervention trials are presently undertaken to prevent Type I (insulin-dependent) diabetes in high risk subjects. They are based on studies in rodents reporting nicotinamide protection against beta-cell injury in vitro and in vivo. This study examines whether nicotinamide can protect human beta cells in vitro. At concentrations (2 and 5 mmol/l) to protect rat beta cells against necrosis by streptozotocin or hydrogen peroxide, nicotinamide prevents hydrogen peroxide-induced necrosis of human beta cells. As with rat beta cells, nicotinamide fails to protect human beta cells against apoptosis induced by a combination of the cytokines interleukin-1beta, interferon-gamma and tumour necrosis factor-alpha. In rat beta cells, nicotinamide (2 to 20 mmol/l) was also found to induce apoptosis, in particular during the days following its protection against necrosis; this cytotoxic effect was not observed with human beta cells. These data demonstrate that nicotinamide can protect human beta cells against radical-induced necrosis, but not against cytokine-induced apoptosis. This effect is not associated with a delayed apoptosis as in rat beta cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • Interferon-gamma / pharmacology
  • Interleukin-1 / pharmacology
  • Islets of Langerhans / cytology
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects*
  • Islets of Langerhans / pathology
  • Male
  • Necrosis
  • Niacinamide / pharmacology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Streptozocin / toxicity
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / pharmacology


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-1
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Niacinamide
  • Streptozocin
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Hydrogen Peroxide