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HomeBlogNAD+: Nicotinamide Riboside and the Nervous System

image of brain and doctorNicotinamide Riboside (NR) is thought to be neuroprotective.  This has been studied in relation to Alzheimer’s disease, apoptosis in the hippocampus, neuronal loss, strokes, optic nerve damage, glaucoma, anxiety, and ALS.

Almost all of these studies are “experimental.” That means they have been tested in the lab, on mice, or on people yet (though there are a few people studies sprinkled in here). If you are trying to figure out the “optimal dose,” the “best way to give NR,” or the best “formula of NR,” the truth is we don’t yet know the answer. For this reason, biohacking is not taught in medical schools. There is clearly science here, and a true effect. However, this is a rapidly emerging area.

When treated with NR, what effects have studies shown so far?

  • Alzheimer experimental models that showed NR in larger amounts than can be found naturally in food may lead to brain-protective effects by the stimulation of NAD+ anabolism.
  • In experimental models, NRchloride was administered 20 minutes after reperfusion in brain injury. Those mice treated had better memory function and recovery of learning.
  • With acute treatment with NRchloride, neuronal loss and infarct volume (i.e. stroke) were decreased. It increased measured amounts of NAD+ and ATP, as well as stimulated AMP kinase. T-cell survival and function were improved.
  • NR improved an experimental model’s ataxia. This improved motor function and reduced inflammation as well as degeneration of the nerves.
  • In mice, oral NR increased oxytocin levels, helping alleviate anxiety during stress.
  • Gulf War Illness is a neuropsychiatric disorder caused by inflammation and nerve damage. There is no known treatment. In an experimental model, NR restored brain bioenergetics and reduced inflammation of the nerves. This involved taking NR orally, 100 micrograms/day for two months.
  • It has been used in the gut microbiome – brain axis, showing effects with alcohol-induced depressive behavior and protected against decreased levels of anti-inflammatory and growth factors.
  • NR has been injected into the brain where it protected against axon degeneration and brain damage caused by NMDA.
  • In rats with optic nerve degeneration, injection of NR into the vitreous showed significant nerve protection of the retina and optic nerve.
  • Slows glaucoma — in a randomized double blind human trial, taking NR 300 mg for 24 months slowed down optic nerve degeneration.
  • In cell cultures and mouse models, ALS delayed motor neuron failure, decreased inflammation of the nerve, influenced muscle metabolism, and increased to a small extenet the survival.
  • Zika-induced microcephaly in newborns may be improved. In ZIKA-infected mice, NR improved survival, reduced apoptosis, and increased the thickness of the brain.
The Science of Anti-Aging

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