Nicotinic acid: an old drug with a promising future

Br J Pharmacol. 2008 Mar;153 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S68-75. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjp.0707528. Epub 2007 Nov 26.


Nicotinic acid has been used for decades to treat dyslipidaemic states. In particular its ability to raise the plasma HDL cholesterol concentration has led to an increased interest in its pharmacological potential. The clinical use of nicotinic acid is somewhat limited due to several harmless but unpleasant side effects, most notably a cutaneous flushing phenomenon. With the recent discovery of a nicotinic acid receptor, it has become possible to better understand the mechanisms underlying the metabolic and vascular effects of nicotinic acid. Based on these new insights into the action of nicotinic acid, novel strategies are currently under development to maximize the pharmacological potential of this drug. The generation of both flush-reducing co-medications of nicotinic acid and novel drugs targeting the nicotinic acid receptor will provide future therapeutic options for the treatment of dyslipidaemic disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dyslipidemias / blood
  • Dyslipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Flushing / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / adverse effects
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / chemistry
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects
  • Niacin / adverse effects
  • Niacin / chemistry
  • Niacin / pharmacokinetics
  • Niacin / pharmacology*
  • Niacin / therapeutic use
  • Receptors, Nicotinic / drug effects


  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Receptors, Nicotinic
  • Niacin