Extended-release niacin effective in low doses for diabetics, say UT Southwestern researchers

DALLAS July 22, 2002 Niacin, a medication once discouraged for the treatment of lipid abnormalities in patients with diabetes, has the potential ability, when given in low doses, to be well-tolerated and effective, according to UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas researchers, who led the multicenter trial.

The researchers report in today's issue of Archives of Internal Medicine that in the 148 study participants extended-release niacin (Niaspan) led to significantly improved lipid levels and minimal changes in glycemic control.

"Previous reports have shown that niacin in high doses raises blood glucose, but this trial shows that in doses of 1,000 milligrams per day and 1,500 mg/d, niacin therapy was well-tolerated and changes in glycemic control were minimal," said Dr. Scott Grundy, the study's lead author, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at UT Southwestern and holder of the Distinguished Chair in Human Nutrition. "Low doses of an extended form of niacin also had favorable effects on blood lipids and lipoproteins."

The researchers targeted niacin therapy for a condition in patients with diabetes called dyslipidemia, which is characterized by high levels of triglycerides and other lipid-related abnormalities along with depressed levels of the healthier high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

"Niacin therapy has been discouraged by clinicians because high doses can worsen glycemic control in patients with diabetes," said Dr. Gloria Vega, a professor of clinical nutrition and a study co-author. "In this study we evaluated the tolerance and effectiveness of niacin at low doses. This extended-release form is designed to circumvent the bothersome side effects of regular niacin, such as flushing of the skin."

During the trial, the study participants were divided into three groups. They received either 1,500 mg/d of extended-release niacin, 1,000 mg/d of extended-release niacin, or a placebo. About h

Contact: Amy Shields
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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