Nicotinamide Alleviates MS Symptoms in Mice

Protein or nicotinamide treatment reduce axonal loss and behavioral deficits

MONDAY, Sept. 25 (HealthDay News) -- In an animal model of multiple sclerosis, treatment with nicotinamide or a fusion protein reduces axonal loss and alleviates the symptoms of the disease, according to a report published in the Sept. 20 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

Zhigang He, Ph.D., and colleagues from Harvard Medical School in Boston, engineered mice to overproduce the Wallerian degeneration slow fusion protein (Wld-s), composed of the full-length nicotinamide mononucleotide adenylyltransferase fused to a short region of a ubiquitin assembly protein. Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an MS-like disease, was induced in the mice.

The researchers found that the Wld-s fusion protein modestly reduced the behavioral deficits and axonal loss associated with EAE. Nicotinamide, a form of vitamin B3 and a biosynthetic precursor of beta-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, was very effective in preventing the loss of demyelinated axons and improved behavioral deficits in both wild-type mice and mice producing the fusion protein. The protective effects of Wld-s and nicotinamide were both associated with increases in the levels of beta-nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, according to the study.

"In this study, we showed that both Wld-s expression and nicotinamide administration can prevent axonal loss and alleviate the neurological disability associated with EAE, suggesting a new neuroprotective strategy for MS/EAE," He and colleagues conclude.

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