Pellagra: an old enemy of timeless importance

Psychosomatics. 2010 Mar-Apr;51(2):93-7. doi: 10.1176/appi.psy.51.2.93.


Background: In the United States, pellagra is infrequently reported. Yet this disorder does occur among malnourished persons.

Objective: The author seeks to clarify diagnosis and treatment.

Method: The author describes various presentations and effects of this disorder.

Results: Knowledge of classic and atypical presentations can assist in making the diagnosis. The author presents two cases of pellagra that exemplify the classic and atypical presentations.

Conclusion: The typically robust response of the disorder to physiologic doses of niacin can assist in confirming the diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Avitaminosis / complications
  • Avitaminosis / drug therapy
  • Avitaminosis / epidemiology
  • Diarrhea / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nausea / epidemiology
  • Niacin / therapeutic use*
  • Pellagra / drug therapy*
  • Pellagra / epidemiology
  • Pellagra / etiology
  • Vitamin B Complex / therapeutic use*
  • Vomiting / epidemiology


  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Niacin