Vitamin B3 or niacin, a common water-soluble vitamin, may help improve neurological function after stroke, an early study suggests.
When rats with ischemic stroke were given niacin, their brains showed growth of new blood vessels, and sprouting of nerve cells which greatly improved neurological outcome.
Now research is underway at Henry Ford to investigate the effects of an extended-release form of niacin on stroke patients.
"If this proves to also work well in our human trials, we'll then have the benefit of a low-cost, easily-tolerable treatment for one of the most neurologically devastating conditions," Michael Chopp, Ph.D., scientific director of the Henry Ford Neuroscience Institute.
Dr. Chopp will present results from the animal model study at the International Stroke Conference in San Antonio.
Ischemic strokes occur as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. Ischemic stroke accounts for about 87 percent of all cases. One underlying condition for this type of obstruction is the development of fatty cholesterol deposits lining the vessel walls.
Niacin is known to be the most effective medicine in current clinical use for increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), which helps those fatty deposits.