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Lab Reports
December 3, 2014

How a Natural Molecule May Protect Against Autoimmune Diseases

JAMA. 2014;312(21):2202. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.16227

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+)—the coenzyme form of the vitamin niacin and a natural molecule found in all living cells—may help protect against autoimmune diseases by regulating how CD4+ T cells differentiate, researchers report (Tullius SG et al. Nat Commun. 2014;5:5101).

A team led by investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston were able to show that NAD+ can block and reverse the progression of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a preclinical model for human multiple sclerosis, by promoting myelination and neural tissue regeneration. Although previous work has implicated the importance of NAD+ in EAE pathology, this study uncovers the role and underlying mechanism of NAD+ in the immune response. Notably, scientists discovered that NAD+ protects against EAE by altering T-cell differentiation through a novel noncanonical enzymatic pathway independent from previously described classical cytokine and transcription factor signaling.

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