Relationship between the niacin skin flush response and essential fatty acids in schizophrenia

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2003 Dec;69(6):413-9. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2003.08.013.


The skin flush response to niacin is selectively mediated by the release of vasodilatory prostaglandins from the skin. The normal skin flush response to niacin is attenuated in many individuals with schizophrenia (SCZ). This finding suggests abnormal prostaglandin signaling in SCZ. Since prostaglandins are derived from arachidonic acid (AA), the finding of an abnormal skin flush response is consistent with biochemical data suggesting relative depletion of AA, and other essential fatty acids (EFAs), in a substantial portion of people with SCZ. This paper will describe the mechanism of the skin flush response to niacin, and will review evidence that the response to niacin is abnormal in SCZ, that this abnormality is not related to psychotropic medications, and that it may be a marker of the EFA deficiency which has been documented to be present in many patients with SCZ.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Arachidonic Acid / metabolism
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / deficiency
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / metabolism*
  • Flushing / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Niacin / metabolism*
  • Nicotinic Acids / pharmacology
  • Schizophrenia / drug therapy
  • Schizophrenia / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Skin / drug effects
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Skin Tests


  • Fatty Acids, Essential
  • Nicotinic Acids
  • Niacin
  • Arachidonic Acid