Study Title:

Niacin Boosts BDNF Production

Study Abstract

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Niacin is the most effective medication in current clinical use for increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. We tested the hypothesis that niacin treatment of stroke promotes synaptic plasticity and axon growth in the ischemic brain.

METHODS: Male Wistar rats were subjected to 2 hours of middle cerebral artery occlusion and treated with or without Niaspan (a prolonged-release formulation of niacin, 40 mg/kg) daily for 14 days starting 24 hours after middle cerebral artery occlusion. The expression of synaptophysin, Nogo receptor, Bielschowsky silver, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and its receptor tropomyosin-related kinase B were measured by immunohistostaining and Western blot, respectively, in the ischemic brain. Complementing in vivo studies, primary cultured neurons were used to test the effect of niacin and high-density lipoprotein on neurite outgrowth and brain-derived neurotrophic factor/tropomyosin-related kinase B expression.

RESULTS: Niaspan treatment of stroke significantly increased synaptophysin, Bielschowsky silver, brain-derived neurotrophic factor/tropomyosin-related kinase B expression, and decreased Nogo receptor expression in the ischemic brain compared with middle cerebral artery occlusion control animals (P<0.05, n=8/group). Niacin and high-density lipoprotein treatment significantly increased neurite outgrowth and brain-derived neurotrophic factor/tropomyosin-related kinase B expression in primary cultured neurons. Tropomyosin-related kinase B inhibitor attenuated niacin-induced neurite outgrowth (P<0.05, n=6/group).

CONCLUSIONS: Niacin treatment of stroke promotes synaptic plasticity and axon growth, which is mediated, at least partially, by the brain-derived neurotrophic factor/tropomyosin-related kinase B pathways.

Study Information

Cui X, Chopp M, Zacharek A, Roberts C, Buller B, Ion M, Chen J.
Niacin treatment of stroke increases synaptic plasticity and axon growth in rats.
Stroke.
2010 September
Department of Neurology, Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Mich 48202, USA.

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