While previous studies have linked commercial dietary supplements such as nicotinamide riboside (NR), a form of vitamin B3, to cardiovascular, metabolic and neurological health benefits, new research from the University of Missouri found that NR may actually increase the risk of serious illness. , including the development of cancer.
The international team of researchers led by Elena Goun, associate professor of chemistry at MU, found that high levels of NR could not only increase the risk of developing triple-negative breast cancer, but also cause the metastasis or spread of the brain cancer. . Once the cancer reaches the brain, the results are deadly because no viable treatment options currently exist, said Goun, who is the study’s corresponding author.
“Some people take them [vitamins and supplements] because they automatically assume that vitamins and supplements only have positive health benefits, but very little is known about how they actually work,” Goun said. “Because of this lack of knowledge, we were inspired to investigate the basic questions surrounding how vitamins and supplements work in the body.”
Following the passing of her 59-year-old father, just three months after being diagnosed with colon cancer, Goun was moved by her father’s passing to pursue a better scientific understanding of cancer metabolism, or energy through which the cancer spreads in the body. Since NR is a supplement known to help increase cellular energy levels and cancer cells feed off this energy with their increased metabolism, Goun wanted to study the role of NR in the development and spread of the cancer.
“Our work is particularly important given the wide commercial availability and large number of ongoing human clinical trials where NR is used to mitigate the side effects of cancer treatment in patients,” Goun said.
The researchers used this technology to compare and examine the levels of NR present in cancer cells, T cells and healthy tissue.
“While NR is already widely used in humans and has many ongoing clinical trials for additional applications, much of how NR works is a black box – it’s not understood,” Goun said. “So this inspired us to come up with this new imaging technique based on ultra-sensitive bioluminescent imaging that allows real-time quantification of NR levels in a non-invasive way. The presence of NR is indicated by light, and the more the light, the more NR present.”
Goun said the study results underscore the importance of having thorough investigations into the potential side effects of supplements like NR before their use in people who may have different types of health problems. In the future, Goun would like to provide information that could potentially lead to the development of certain inhibitors to help make cancer therapies like chemotherapy more effective in treating cancer. The key to this approach, Goun said, is to look at it from a personalized medicine perspective.
“Not all cancers are the same in every person, especially in terms of metabolic signatures,” Goun said. “Often cancers can even alter their metabolism before or after chemotherapy.”
“Bioluminescent probe for noninvasive in vivo monitoring of nicotinamide riboside uptake reveals link between metastasis and NAD+ metabolism” was published in the Journal of Biosensors and Bioelectronics. Funding was provided by grants from the European Research Council (ERC-2019-COG, 866338) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (51NF40_185898), as well as support from NCCR Chemical Biology.
The other authors of the study are Arkadiy Bazhin, Pavlo Khodakivskyi, Ekaterina Solodnikova and Aleksey Yevtodiyenko from MU; Tamara Maric at EPF; Greta Maria Paola Giordano Attianese, George Coukos and Melita Irving at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in Switzerland; and Magali Joffraud and Carles Cantó at the Nestlé Institute of Health Sciences in Switzerland. Bazhin, Khodakivskyi, Mikhaylov, Solodnikova, Yevtodiyenko and Goun are also affiliated with the EPF. Mikhaylov, Yevtodiyenko and Goun are also affiliated with SwissLumix SARL in Switzerland.