1. Health
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

New Research Reveals How Niacin Effects Extend To HDL Cholesterol

Niacin Effects Reveal Exactly How Good Cholesterol Is Increased


Updated February 25, 2010

Niacin effects extend to raising HDL cholesterol, but how? New studies are helping scientists to understand how niacin works in raising good cholesterol levels.

Nicotinic acid, a form of niacin also known as vitamin B-3, is commonly used to lower cholesterol. Although niacin targets LDL, triglycerides and HDL cholesterol, it is only of the only cholesterol-lowering products that can significantly raise HDL cholesterol. High HDL levels can help to prevent the development of heart disease. A recent study gives insight on how nicotinic acid helps to raise HDL levels in the body.

It was initially thought that nicotinic acid increased HDL levels by increasing its production in the liver. However, a study published in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of Lipid Research found that nicotinic acid prevents HDL from being removed by the liver.

Nicotinic acid does this by binding to a component of a protein in the body called ATP synthase, which is used to make ATP, or a currency for energy in cells. This component, known as a beta chain, is capable of taking up HDL and removing it from the blood. Nicotinic acid can reduce the presence of these beta chains. In fact this study showed that nicotinic acid could reduce this by 27%, thus increasing HDL levels of HDL by up to 35%. It did not appear to affect the uptake of other forms of cholesterol.

In contrast, nicotinamide, another from of niacin found alone or in some multivitamins, did not appear to affect the appearance of these beta chain. Although there is limited research in this area, there has been speculation over the effectiveness of nicotinamide in lowering cholesterol levels.

This research not only gives us an understanding of how nicotinic acid works, it may open the door to the development of future cholesterol lowering drugs.


Zhang LH, Kamanna VS, Zhang MC et al. Niacin inhibits surface expression of ATP synthase B-chain in HepG2 cells: implications for raising HDL. J Lipid Res 2008; 49: 1195-1201.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.