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Br J Nutr. 2013 Dec;110(12):2156-64. doi: 10.1017/S0007114513001815. Epub 2013 Jun 17.

Nicotinamide supplementation induces detrimental metabolic and epigenetic changes in developing rats.

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Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Medical College, Dalian University, Dalian 116622, People's Republic of China.


Ecological evidence suggests that niacin (nicotinamide and nicotinic acid) fortification may be involved in the increased prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes, both of which are associated with insulin resistance and epigenetic changes. The purpose of the present study was to investigate nicotinamide-induced metabolic changes and their relationship with possible epigenetic changes. Male rats (5 weeks old) were fed with a basal diet (control group) or diets supplemented with 1 or 4 g/kg of nicotinamide for 8 weeks. Low-dose nicotinamide exposure increased weight gain, but high-dose one did not. The nicotinamide-treated rats had higher hepatic and renal levels of 8-hydroxy-2'-deoxyguanosine, a marker of DNA damage, and impaired glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity when compared with the control rats. Nicotinamide supplementation increased the plasma levels of nicotinamide, N1-methylnicotinamide and choline and decreased the levels of betaine, which is associated with a decrease in global hepatic DNA methylation and uracil content in DNA. Nicotinamide had gene-specific effects on the methylation of CpG sites within the promoters and the expression of hepatic genes tested that are responsible for methyl transfer reactions (nicotinamide N-methyltransferase and DNA methyltransferase 1), for homocysteine metabolism (betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase, methionine synthase and cystathionine β-synthase) and for oxidative defence (catalase and tumour protein p53). It is concluded that nicotinamide-induced oxidative tissue injury, insulin resistance and disturbed methyl metabolism can lead to epigenetic changes. The present study suggests that long-term high nicotinamide intake (e.g. induced by niacin fortification) may be a risk factor for methylation- and insulin resistance-related metabolic abnormalities.

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