Influence of nicotinic acid on metabolism of cholesterol and triglycerides in man

Scott M Grundy, H. Y I Mok, L. Zech, M. Berman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

233 Scopus citations


The mechanisms for the hypolipidemic action of nicotinic acid were examined in 12 patients with hyperlipidemia. Most patients were studied in the hospital on a metabolic ward. The first month was a control period followed by 1 month on nicotinic acid. During treatment with nicotinic acid, the triglycerides (TG) decreased in total plasma by an average of 52% and in very low density lipoproteins (VLDL) by 36%. Transport rates of VLDL-TG were determined by multicompartmental analysis following injection of [3H]glycerol as a precursor. Nicotinic acid decreased transport (synthesis) of VLDL-TG by an average of 21%. Kinetic modeling of the VLDL-TG data suggested that the TG reduction was due to a decrease in TG content of VLDL and hence a reduction in lipoprotein size more than number. For the whole group, plasma cholesterol fell during nicotinic acid therapy by a mean of 22%. The drug produced no detectable changes in fecal excretions of cholesterol (neutral steroids) or bile acids. However, it induced a small but significant increment in hepatic secretion of biliary cholesterol that might have led to a net loss of cholesterol from the body even though this loss could not be detected by sterol balance. Despite this increase in outputs of biliary cholesterol, there was not a significant increase in molar % cholesterol or in % saturation of gallbladder bile. Therefore, it is doubtful that nicotinic acid enhances the risk for cholesterol gallstones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-36
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of lipid research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Cell Biology


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