Researchers at Washington University Medical School were published a report in which Nicotinamide Riboside showed the ability to rescue neurons that were degenerating. Axon degeneration interrupts nerve signaling and prevents communication between nerves. This degeneration is common in many neurodegenerative diseases, neurological disorders, and traumatic nerve injuries.
Axons are the longest cellular structures in the body and possess a self-destruction program that facilitates clearance of damaged axon fragments but also promotes axon loss in the context of neurological disorders. The scientists reported that the protein SARM1, an essential regulator of axon degeneration, triggers a rapid chemical breakdown of the metabolic cofactor NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). They found that this protein, once unleashed, causes a rapid decline in the energy supply within axons. Within minutes after SARM1 is activated in neurons, a massive loss of NAD+ occurs within the axon.
Working in neurons in which SARM1 was activated, the researchers showed they could completely block axon degeneration and neuron cell death by supplementing the cells with a precursor to NAD+, a chemical called nicotinamide riboside (NR). The neurons were able to use nicotinamide riboside to keep the axons energized and healthy.
Jeffrey Milbrandt, one of the study leaders, remarked: “In this study, we showed that SARM1 promotes destruction of injured axons by initiating a program that leads to NAD+ breakdown and energetic catastrophe. This process can be counteracted by administration of NR, which stimulates increased NAD+ synthesis. The inhibition of SARM1 destructive activity prevents the degeneration of injured axons and may be useful in treating conditions where axon dysfunction plays a central role in the pathology”.
The findings suggest that supplementation with NR shows promise as a potential therapy for conditions involving axonal injury including trauma to the head (concussions) as well various neurodegenerative diseases and neurological disorders.”