Niacin as antidyslipidemic drug

Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2015 Dec;93(12):1043-54. doi: 10.1139/cjpp-2014-0478. Epub 2015 Apr 28.


Niacin is an important vitamin (B3) that can be used in gram doses to positively modify pathogenetically relevant lipid disorders: elevated LDL cholesterol, elevated non-HDL cholesterol, elevated triglycerides, elevated lipoprotein(a), and reduced HDL cholesterol. This review reports the latest published findings with respect to niacin's mechanisms of action on these lipids and its anti-inflammatory and anti-atherosclerotic effects. In the pre-statin era, niacin was shown to have beneficial effects on cardiovascular end-points; but in recent years, two major studies performed in patients whose LDL cholesterol levels had been optimized by a statin therapy did not demonstrate an additional significant effect on these end-points in the groups where niacin was administered. Both studies have several drawbacks that suggest that they are not representative for other patients. Thus, niacin still plays a role either as an additive to a statin or as a substitute for a statin in statin-intolerant patients. Moreover, patients with elevated triglyceride and low HDL cholesterol levels and patients with elevated lipoprotein(a) concentrations will possibly benefit from niacin, although currently the study evidence for these indications is rather poor. Niacin may be useful for compliant patients, however possible side effects (flushing, liver damage) and contraindications should be taken into consideration.

Keywords: adverse effects; cardiovascular end-points; effets indésirables; intervention studies; lipid disorders; niacin; niacine; paramètres d’évaluation cardiovasculaires; troubles lipidiques; études interventionnelles.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Dyslipidemias / blood
  • Dyslipidemias / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Hypolipidemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Male
  • Niacin / therapeutic use*
  • Triglycerides / blood


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL
  • Hypolipidemic Agents
  • Triglycerides
  • Niacin