ChromaDex Highlights The Latest Research on Niagen


The patented nicotinamide riboside ingredient is being evaluated for applications including obesity, neurological protection, and immune response to COVID-19.

ChromaDex Corp. announced the results of several new studies for its nicotinamide riboside (NR) ingredient, Niagen, which will pave the way for additional research. Niagen is a recently-discovered vitamin B3 found in food, in very trace amounts. For the several years in which Niagen has been commercially available, it has been applied predominantly as an ingredient that may help reverse the signs of aging by converting into NAD+ inside the body, which is believed to act as fuel for converting food into energy, repairing damaged DNA, fortifying cells’ defense systems, and improving circadian rhythym. NAD+ is known to deplete within the body as part of the natural aging process.
Through its research program, called the ChromaDex External Research Program, the patented NR ingredient was provided to research institutions and universities for free, for assessments on Niagen’s ability to increase endogenous levels of NAD+, a critical coenzyme found in every cell of the body, and the potential health implications of such an ingredient.
Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that NR supplementation at one gram per day for six weeks in healthy overweight or obese men and women modestly improved body composition, skeletal muscle concentrations of acetyl carnitine (a fatty acid transporter), and an increased metabolic rate during sleep.
Preclinical research from Dr. Charles Brenner and researchers at three U.S. universities investigated a query as to whether NAD+ has a role in the innate immune response to COVID-19. They found that NAD+ dysregulation occurred in an in vitro model, in the lung tissue of ferrets infected with a zoonotic coronavirus, and in a deceased COVID-19 patient. While further research is underway, these preclinical findings suggest that NAD+ levels were decreased three-fold in infected cells. “The virus and infected cells appear to be playing a tug-of-war with cellular NAD,” Brenner said. “Infected cells activate a set of genes to use NAD for defense while the virus has a specific gene to try to defeat this. These infected cells also have a gene expression program that provides insight into how we may be able to strengthen innate immunity.”
According to researchers, when cells are infected with coronavirus, they specifically seek out NR to replenish NAD+ levels in the face of a viral infection.
In the face of these results, ChromaDex is expediting research materials and data to the scientific community including participants of the ChromaDex External Research Program who are studying NR in relation to COVID-19.
“As a science-based company with a unique NAD boosting molecule and knowing that our cells’ NAD is depleted by viral infections, we take our responsibility seriously and will leverage our science resources to expedite continuing research on the potential impact of Niagen,” Rob Fried, Chromadex CEO, said.
Neurological Protection?
A preclinical study published in Nature Communications investigated the role that NR might have in neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. In mouse models, it was found that NR significantly increased brain NAD+ levels, partially blocked neurodegeneration, and increased the lifespan of neurodegenerative mice by 30%. The study involved a cross comparison of NR and NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) which showed that NMN was not at all effective at raising NAD+ levels in the neurodegenerative mouse model brain.
A Novel Nutrient
As a novel nutritional ingredient, NR is still very much in the investigational stages for its potential applications centered around increasing endogenous NAD+.  A study and review from the journal Nature Metabolism specifically recognized Niagen for its potential as a unique NAD+ boosting agent with regulatory acceptance in a review called “NAD On The Rise Again,” which also confirmed that NR’s close relative, NRH (dihydronicotinamide riboside), has an endogenous presence in the liver, establishing NRH as a natural precursor of NAD+ that causes its natural biosynthesis. ChromaDex also holds intellectual property over NRH and is exploring its scientific potential relative to NR.
The role of boosting NAD+ with NR, and its apparent benefits, were first discovered in 2004 by Dr. Brenner, the head of biochemistry at the University of Iowa and ChromaDex’s chief scientific advisor.
ChromaDex CEO Rob Fried argues that research on NR has pointed to it as being the most efficacious of all NAD+ precursors discovered so far.
“Niagen remains the most effective, consistently safe, and regulatory approved NAD+ precursor on the market,” Fried said. “As the scientific potential of NAD+ has grown, so too has the number of unproven claims and popularity of untested precursors on the market, like NMN, that have not been shown in human clinicals to safely and effectively increase NAD+ levels.”