A new study, however, focused on the effect of nicotinamide riboside (NR), which is a form of vitamin B-3, on Alzheimer’s-related brain damage in mice.
More specifically, the researchers — who were jointly led by Dr. Vilhelm A. Bohr, the chief of the National Institute on Aging’s (NIA) Laboratory of Molecular Gerontology, and Dr. Yujun Hou, a postdoctoral investigator in the laboratory — focused on how NR affects the brain’s ability to repair its DNA, a function that is compromised in Alzheimer’s disease.
As the scientists explain, a deficiency in the brain’s ability to repair its DNA leads to dysfunction in the cells’ mitochondria — the energy-creating organelles inside the cells — which, in turn, leads to neuronal dysfunction and lower neuron production.
But NR is “critical for mitochondrial health and biogenesis, stem cell self-renewal, and neuronal stress resistance.” Thus, Dr. Bohr and his colleagues wanted to explore the effects of NR supplementation in a mouse model of the neurological disease.
The team added NR to the drinking water of mice that had been genetically engineered to develop the hallmarks of the neurodegenerative disorder. These included toxic buildups of the proteins tau and amyloid beta, dysfunctional synapses, and neuronal death — all of which resulted in cognitive deficits.
The mice drank the water for 3 months, and their brains and cognitive health were compared with those of control mice. The findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.