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Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2012 Mar;32(3):582-8. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.111.236315. Epub 2011 Dec 29.

Niacin in cardiovascular disease: recent preclinical and clinical developments.

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Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Oxford, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, OX3 9DU, United Kingdom.


Niacin has been used for more than 50 years in the treatment of cardiovascular disease, although its use has largely been superseded by better-tolerated lipid-modulating interventions. There has been a renewed interest in the HDL-cholesterol raising properties of niacin, with the appreciation that substantial cardiovascular risk remains despite effective treatment of LDL-cholesterol. This coincides with increasing evidence that the complex functional properties of HDL are not well reflected by measurement of HDL-cholesterol alone. In addition to favorable actions on lipoproteins, it is becoming apparent that niacin may also possess lipoprotein independent or pleiotropic effects including the inhibition of inflammatory pathways mediated by its receptor GPR109A, which is expressed by adipocytes and some leukocytes. In this article we consider emerging and prior clinical trial data relating to niacin. We review recent data in respect of mechanisms of action on lipoproteins, which remain complex and incompletely understood. We discuss the recent reports of anti-inflammatory effects of niacin in adipocytes and through bone marrow derived cells and vascular endothelium. These novel observations come at an interesting time, with current imaging and outcome studies leaving outstanding questions on niacin efficacy in statin-treated patients.

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