NEW YORK – More patients are inquiring about the antiaging claims made for nicotinamide products, according to Christine DeWitt MD, of the department of dermatology, Georgetown University, Washington. She encouraged attendees at the American Academy of Dermatology summer meeting to gain familiarity with the underlying mechanisms and potential uses of nicotinamide for aging skin and prevention of skin cancer as well as for a variety of dermatologic disorders, including atopic dermatitis and bullous pemphigoid.
The ability of nicotinamide to increase oxidized nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) is credited for most of its dermatologic benefits, according to Dr. DeWitt. She explained that NAD+ has a central role in cell metabolism, including serving as a substrate for sirtuins, which help prevent deterioration of telomeres, now thought to be a critical event in aging.
Downstream effects include an improved barrier function to reduce transdermal water loss in patients with atopic dermatitis and anti-inflammatory effects that are relevant to acne and bullous pemphigoid.
The related but unique forms of vitamin B3, nicotinamide riboside and nicotinamide mononucleotide, appear to increase more directly and effectively NAD+ with the potential to provide more potent enzymatic antiaging effects, according to Dr. DeWitt. Not all of the more than 90 active and recruiting trials listed for these compounds on clinicaltrials.gov relate to aging, but many do list this or a related condition, such as frailty or sarcopenia, as the therapeutic target.
The trials are being conducted even as OTC nicotinamide riboside and nicotinamide mononucleotide products are being promoted with terms such as “antiaging DNA repair” and “sirtuins activator.” Dr. DeWitt said that favorable reviews of these products on Internet forums are leading many patients to ask her specifically about their clinical value.
“Patients are starting to look at aging and longevity as an entity to manage and to treat,” Dr. DeWitt explained. Increasingly, patients bring up terms like autophagy and ask about the science behind antiaging products.
The clinical role of nicotinamide-related products, whether to reduce events related to aging or provide other benefits, remains unproven.
Nevertheless, Dr. DeWitt often offers nicotinamide to her patients for such indications as acne and atopic dermatitis. In patients with bullous pemphigoid, nicotinamide is an adjunct to other therapies “in most of my patients.”
When recommending nicotinamide, Dr. DeWitt specifies a brand, not because there is evidence that one brand is better than another but because of a reputation of quality control with branded OTC products.
In general, nicotinamide, which is not generally associated with the flushing that accompanies niacin, is well tolerated. She recommends 500 mg twice daily for most indications.
Dr. DeWitt advised reviewing published studies on nicotinamide in order to respond appropriately to patient inquiries. She noted that many patients come to the clinician’s office already aware of the science behind the potential role of NAD+ to inhibit aging and will be seeking an objective point of view.
Dr. DeWitt reports no conflicts of interest.