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NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Compound Prevents Neurological Damage, Shows Cognitive Benefits in Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease

The supplement nicotinamide riboside (NR)—a form of vitamin B3—prevented neurological damage and improved cognitive and physical function in a new mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. The results of the study, conducted by researchers at NIA, suggest a potential new target for treating Alzheimer’s disease. The findings appeared in the Feb. 5 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

NR acts on the brain by normalizing levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a metabolite vital to cellular energy, stem cell self-renewal, resistance to neuronal stress and DNA repair. In Alzheimer’s disease, the brain’s usual DNA repair activity is impaired, leading to mitochondrial dysfunction, lower neuron production and increased neuronal dysfunction and inflammation.

“The pursuit of interventions to prevent or delay Alzheimer’s and related dementias is an important national priority,” said NIA director Dr. Richard Hodes. “We are encouraging the testing of a variety of new approaches and this study’s positive results suggest one avenue to pursue further.”

The international team of scientists was led by Dr. Vilhelm Bohr, senior investigator and chief of NIA’s Laboratory of Molecular Gerontology, with Dr. Yujun Hou, a postdoctoral investigator in the laboratory.

Based on their studies in human postmortem brain, they developed a new strain of mice mimicking major features of human Alzheimer’s such as tau pathology, failing synapses, neuronal death and cognitive impairment. Using this animal model, the researchers tested the effects of an NR supplement by adding it to the drinking water of the mice.

Over a 3-month period, researchers found that mice who received NR showed reduced tau in their brains, but no change in amyloid-beta.


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