Nicotinamide enhances mitochondria quality through autophagy activation in human cells

Aging Cell. 2009 Aug;8(4):426-38. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2009.00487.x. Epub 2009 May 16.


Nicotinamide (NAM) treatment causes a decrease in mitochondrial respiration and reactive oxygen species production in primary human fibroblasts and extends their replicative lifespan. In the current study, it is reported that NAM treatment induces a decrease in mitochondrial mass and an increase in membrane potential (DeltaPsim) by accelerating autophagic degradation of mitochondria. In the NAM-treated cells, the level of LC3-II as well as the number of LC3 puncta and lysosomes co-localizing with mitochondria substantially increased. Furthermore, in the NAM-treated cells, the levels of Fis1, Drp1, and Mfn1, proteins that regulate mitochondrial fission and fusion, increased and mitochondria experienced dramatic changes in structure from filaments to dots or rings. This structural change is required for the decrease of mitochondrial mass indicating that NAM accelerates mitochondrial autophagy, at least in part, by inducing mitochondrial fragmentation. The decrease in mitochondria mass was attenuated by treatment with cyclosporine A, which prevents the loss of mitochondrial membrane potential by blocking the mitochondrial permeability transition, suggesting autophagic degradation selective for mitochondria with low DeltaPsim. All these changes were accompanied by and dependent on an increase in the levels of GAPDH, and are blocked by inhibition of the cellular conversion of NAM to NAD(+). Taken together with our previous findings, these results suggest that up-regulation of GAPDH activity may prolong healthy lifespan of human cells through autophagy-mediated mitochondria quality maintenance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autophagy / drug effects*
  • Autophagy-Related Protein 12
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenases / genetics
  • Humans
  • Membrane Potential, Mitochondrial / drug effects
  • Mitochondria / drug effects*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Mitochondrial Size / drug effects
  • Niacinamide / pharmacology*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Small Ubiquitin-Related Modifier Proteins / genetics
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects


  • ATG12 protein, human
  • Autophagy-Related Protein 12
  • Small Ubiquitin-Related Modifier Proteins
  • Niacinamide
  • Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenases