Treatment with vitamin B3 improves functional recovery and reduces GFAP expression following traumatic brain injury in rats

J Neurotrauma. 2003 Nov;20(11):1189-99. doi: 10.1089/089771503770802871.


Previous studies have shown that administration of vitamin B(3) (B(3)) in animal models of ischemia significantly reduced the size of infarction and improved functional recovery. The present study evaluated the effect of administration of B(3) on recovery of function following traumatic brain injury (TBI), incorporating the bilateral medial frontal cortex contusion injury model. Groups of rats were assigned to B(3) (500 mg/kg) or saline (1.0 ml/kg) treatment conditions and received contusion injuries or sham surgeries. Drug treatment was administered 15 min and 24 h following injury. Rats were examined on a variety of tests to measure sensorimotor performance (bilateral tactile adhesive removal), skilled forelimb use (staircase test), and cognitive ability (reference and working memory) in the Morris Water Maze. Administration of B(3) following injury significantly reduced the behavioral impairments observed on the bilateral tactile removal test, but not on skilled forelimb use. The acquisition of reference and working memory tests were also significantly improved compared to saline-treated rats. Examination of the brains revealed that administration of B(3) significantly reduced the size of the lesion compared to treatment with saline. In addition, examination of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expression around the lesion revealed that B(3) significantly reduced the number of GFAP(+) astrocytes. These results indicate that B(3) administration significantly improved behavioral outcome following injury, reduced the size of the lesion, and reduced the expression of GFAP. The current findings suggest that B(3) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of TBI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / drug effects
  • Astrocytes / metabolism
  • Brain Injuries / drug therapy*
  • Brain Injuries / pathology
  • Cognition / drug effects
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / biosynthesis
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning / drug effects
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Niacinamide / therapeutic use*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Recovery of Function / drug effects*


  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • Niacinamide