Most of the medications currently available for the Alzheimer’s treatment they have a slight effect on the symptoms, but do not stop the progression of the disease, so the cognitive decline continues. Now, and for the first time, it has been proven that a dietary supplementa coenzyme present in vitamin B3 known as nicotinamide riboside (NR) It can enter the brain and alter the metabolism of biological pathways involved in neurodegenerative pathologies such as Alzheimer’s.
Christopher Martens, an assistant professor of kinesiology and applied physiology and director of the Delaware Center for Cognitive Aging Research, and Dr. Dimitrios Kapogiannis, a senior investigator at the National Institute on Aging, are the authors of the finding, noting that after Ingested, NR is readily converted to nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), a key substance in cell repair and repair of damaged DNA.
Martens has explained that as we get old o we develop chronic diseases we are losing NAD+, and that obesity and harmful lifestyle habits, such as smoking, have been related to loss of NAD+. “Because more NAD+ is needed to counter those negative consequences, you’re more likely to be depleted by negative lifestyle habits,” he adds.
This researcher has spent years studying this compound and in a previous study published in Nature It already showed that continued NR supplementation could increase NAD+ levels in the blood, however it was not known whether it could reach other areas of the body. “We had some preliminary signs of efficacy, including lower blood pressure in people who had high blood pressure to begin with,” he says, “but until now it was unknown whether NR reached specific organs such as the brain to have a therapeutic effect. real”.
Effects of NAD+ on brain metabolism
Martens and his team measured NAD+ in tiny particles called extracellular vesicles that originated in neurons and found their way into the blood, and can provide blood biomarkers for brain disorders and serve as a “liquid biopsy” of neurons, giving researchers extraordinary insight into what’s inside.
“Until now it was unknown if NR reached specific organs such as the brain to have a real therapeutic effect”
“Each vesicle has a unique molecular signature on its surface, including proteins that give clues to its origin,” says Martens. “In our case, we selected vesicles that carry markers that are characteristic of neurons, so we are confident that the NAD+ we measure in them reflects what is happening in neurons and, by extension, in the brain.”
The researchers used samples from their first clinical trial to first determine that NAD+ levels increased in these vesicles after six weeks. “When NAD+ increases in these vesicles, we see an association with some of the biomarkers of neurodegenerative diseasesexplains Martens. “In particular, in people where we saw an increase in NAD+ we also saw changes in biomarkers like amyloid beta and tau, which are linked to Alzheimer’s disease,” she says.
The team of scientists also found a correlation between these neurodegenerative biomarkers and the change in NAD+. “If NAD+ went up a lot, there was usually a bigger change in some of the disease biomarkers,” Martens said. “That tells us that NAD+ is not just getting into the brain, but probably also having some effect on its metabolism and multiple interrelated pathways.”
Some of these blood-based biomarkers could be used in the future to find out if NAD+ depletion is a cause of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. It is even possible that these types of tests could be incorporated as routine tests in the general population.
The results of the research have been published in Aging Celland now Martens and Kapogiannis are conducting a clinical trial with adults with cognitive impairment to determine if increased consumption of NR can improve cognition in these people and if it could be used to slow the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.