Niacinamide therapy for osteoarthritis--does it inhibit nitric oxide synthase induction by interleukin 1 in chondrocytes


McCarty MF, Russell AL




Med Hypotheses


Fifty years ago, Kaufman reported that high-dose niacinamide was beneficial in osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis. A recent double-blind study confirms the efficacy of niacinamide in OA. It may be feasible to interpret this finding in the context of evidence that synovium-generated interleukin-1 (IL-1), by inducing nitric oxide (NO) synthase and thereby inhibiting chondrocyte synthesis of aggrecan and type II collagen, is crucial to the pathogenesis of OA. Niacinamide and other inhibitors of ADP-ribosylation have been shown to suppress cytokine-mediated induction of NO synthase in a number of types of cells; it is therefore reasonable to speculate that niacinamide will have a comparable effect in IL-1-exposed chondrocytes, blunting the anti-anabolic impact of IL-1. The chondroprotective antibiotic doxycycline may have a similar mechanism of action. Other nutrients reported to be useful in OA may likewise intervene in the activity or synthesis of IL-1. Supplemental glucosamine can be expected to stimulate synovial synthesis of hyaluronic acid; hyaluronic acid suppresses the anti-catabolic effect of IL-1 in chondrocyte cell cultures, and has documented therapeutic efficacy when injected intra-articularly. S-adenosylmethionine (SAM), another proven therapy for OA, upregulates the proteoglycan synthesis of chondrocytes, perhaps because it functions physiologically as a signal of sulfur availability. IL-1 is likely to decrease SAM levels in chondrocytes; supplemental SAM may compensate for this deficit. Adequate selenium nutrition may down-regulate cytokine signaling, and ample intakes of fish oil can be expected to decrease synovial IL-1 production; these nutrients should receive further evaluation in OA. These considerations suggest that non-toxic nutritional regimens, by intervening at multiple points in the signal transduction pathways that promote the synthesis and mediate the activity of IL-1, may provide a substantially superior alternative to NSAIDs (merely palliative and often dangerously toxic) in the treatment and perhaps prevention of OA.