The Promise of Niacin in Neurology

Neurotherapeutics. 2023 Jul;20(4):1037-1054. doi: 10.1007/s13311-023-01376-2. Epub 2023 Apr 21.


Niacin (vitamin B3) is an essential nutrient that treats pellagra, and prior to the advent of statins, niacin was commonly used to counter dyslipidemia. Recent evidence has posited niacin as a promising therapeutic for several neurological disorders. In this review, we discuss the biochemistry of niacin, including its homeostatic roles in NAD+ supplementation and metabolism. Niacin also has roles outside of metabolism, largely through engaging hydroxycarboxylic acid receptor 2 (Hcar2). These receptor-mediated activities of niacin include regulation of immune responses, phagocytosis of myelin debris after demyelination or of amyloid beta in models of Alzheimer's disease, and cholesterol efflux from cells. We describe the neurological disorders in which niacin has been investigated or has been proposed as a candidate medication. These are multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, glioblastoma and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Finally, we explore the proposed mechanisms through which niacin may ameliorate neuropathology. While several questions remain, the prospect of niacin as a therapeutic to alleviate neurological impairment is promising.

Keywords: Hydroxycarboxylic acid receptor (Hcar)2; Immunomodulation; NAD+/NADP; Neurological diseases; Niacin treatment; Phagocytosis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Humans
  • Nervous System Diseases*
  • Neurology*
  • Niacin* / metabolism
  • Niacin* / therapeutic use
  • Pellagra* / metabolism


  • Niacin
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides