Physicians and scientists continue to struggle in their quest to find an answer for the millions of Americans who suffer with an autoimmune disorder. However, a novel discovery by scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital offers new hope and a possible solution according to a study published in the journal Nature Communications.
Autoimmune disorders occur when the immune system — which normal protects the body from harmful invading substances — mistakenly identifies normal healthy tissue as harmful. This dysfunction in the ability to distinguish harmful and healthy cells, tissues and organs leads to the destruction of normal, healthy tissue.
When autoimmunity occurs, diseases such as type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease and Grave’s disease can strike. There are currently no existing cures for these diseases and very few effective pharmaceutical options.
The study authors discovered that nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) — a molecule involved in the aging process, energy metabolism and brain function — alters the immune response to protect against autoimmune diseases. In essence, the molecule converts destructive cells that have been tricked into damaging healthy cells, tissues and organs into cells that protect against this destruction.
According to the study authors, NAD+ is not only able to delay disease onset and control inflammation, but it also reverses disease progression and restores tissue integrity. Using a preclinical model for multiple sclerosis, the study authors showed that increasing NAD+ levels resulted in delayed disease onset and reduced severity by regulating immune cell activity.
These exciting findings offer hope that a potential treatment for autoimmune diseases may be possible by further boosting the production of NAD+.
Possessing this knowledge of how NAD+ works with the immune system opens up the possibility of influencing autoimmune diseases with natural remedies that boost production of NAD+. One such nutrient that is able to boost NAD+ levels is nicotinamide riboside, which is a precursor to the production of NAD+.
Nicotinamide riboside is a “no flush” form of niacin (vitamin B3) involved in energy production, athletic performance, physical endurance, cardiovascular health, cognitive function and even the aging process. A study published in the December 2013 edition of Cell reported that nicotinamide riboside increased the production of NAD+.
Those with autoimmune diseases should be cautiously optimistic as scientists further investigate the role of NAD+ and how it may influence and potentially treat autoimmune diseases and other chronic conditions such as allergy, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and immunodeficiency.