Indian Journal of Nephrology About us |  Subscription |  e-Alerts  | Feedback | Login   
  Print this page Email this page   Small font sizeDefault font sizeIncrease font size
 Home | Current Issue | Archives| Ahead of print | Search |Instructions |  Editorial Board  

Users Online:1138

Official publication of the Indian Society of Nephrology
 ~  Similar in PUBMED
 ~  Search Pubmed for
 ~  Search in Google Scholar for
 ~  Article in PDF (326 KB)
 ~  Citation Manager
 ~  Access Statistics
 ~  Reader Comments
 ~  Email Alert *
 ~  Add to My List *
* Registration required (free)  

   Pleotropic Benef...
   Article Tables

 Article Access Statistics
    PDF Downloaded219    
    Comments [Add]    

Recommend this journal


  Table of Contents  
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 26  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 237-238

Niacin for phosphate control: A case of David versus Goliath

Department of Nephrology, Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication1-Jul-2016

Correspondence Address:
K Sampathkumar
Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre, Madurai - 625 107, Tamil Nadu
Login to access the Email id

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0971-4065.161029

Rights and Permissions

How to cite this article:
Sampathkumar K. Niacin for phosphate control: A case of David versus Goliath. Indian J Nephrol 2016;26:237-8

How to cite this URL:
Sampathkumar K. Niacin for phosphate control: A case of David versus Goliath. Indian J Nephrol [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 Jan 23];26:237-8. Available from:

Phosphate control in chronic kidney disease (CKD) is important, given the far-reaching adverse cardiovascular effects of even minor elevations of serum phosphorus (P). In this issue of IJN, Zamanifar et al. have shown that a single tablet of low-dose niacin (100 mg/day) brings about phosphorus reduction of similar magnitude to the popular phosphate binders in common use. This adds up to the already available evidence base emanating from diverse populations across the world attesting to the efficacy of niacin with a unique phosphorus transport blocking action.

Niacin, more commonly known as Vitamin B3, is a water-soluble vitamin with a recommended daily allowance of 0.3 mg/kg/day. It gets converted in vivo to niacinamide via hepatic amidation pathway. The latter is a component of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide; a coenzyme involved in mitochondrial redox reactions. While both niacin and niacinamide reduce serum phosphorus levels, niacin has the additional potentially beneficial property of raising serum high-density lipoproteins (HDL) levels.

A stroke of serendipity led to the discovery of niacin's phosphorus reducing effect. Shimoda et al., showed that when niceritol (a niacin analog) was given to hemodialysis patients for hyperlipidemia, serum phosphorus levels dropped.[1] In 2006, our study on extended-release niacin as a phosphorus reducing agent was published.[2] Subsequently multiple studies across the world have confirmed the potent effect of niacin and analogs on reducing serum phosphorus levels in patients with CKD as shown in [Table 1].
Table 1: Magnitude of phosphorus reduction after niacin therapy in studies across populations

Click here to view

Small intestinal phosphate absorption occurs through a paracellular mechanism involving tight junctions and an active transcellular mechanism involving the type II sodium-dependent phosphate cotransporter Npt2b (SLC34a2). The former was long considered as the major route of phosphorus absorption. Recent evidence shows that NPt2b mediated transport contributes to 75% of phosphorus absorption.[6] Niacin and analogs specifically inhibit this transport process.

In our multipronged strategy to retard the progression of CKD, we are forced to practice polypharmacy. CKD patients are ranked high among those reeling under high pill burden due to the use of phosphorus binders.[7] This inevitably leads to drug noncompliance and poor health-related quality of life. The study by Zamnifer et al. highlights a remarkable property of niacin in that phosphorus control could be achieved with a single dose. By adding it to our repertoire, a dose reduction of other phosphorus binders is possible.

  Pleotropic Benefits of Niacin Top

The modification of Diet in Renal Disease (MDRD) study showed that low HDL level was predictor of progression of CKD. Multiple studies pointed toward such an association between elevated triglycerides and low HDL levels.[3] Niacin is the only available agent with proven benefit of increasing HDL levels. HDL has multiple subfractions with varied roles. The HDL2 subfraction has beneficial anti atherogenic activity whereas HDL3 subfraction is proinflammatory.[8] CKD results in higher HDL3 levels which are corrected by niacin therapy. Under experimental conditions, niacin reduces oxidant stress by inhibiting release of myeloperoxidase, monocyte chemoattractant-1, tumor necrosis factor-alpha, nuclear factor-κB, and vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 from cultured human aortic endothelial cells thus contributing to improved endothelial health.[9]

Niacin-induced flushing is often cited as a significant impediment to its continued use. However, a recent analysis showed that extended-release niacin was associated with an acceptably low incidence of flushing.[10] A recent meta-analysis involving 5 randomized controlled trials with niacinamide called into question its reported association with thrombocytopenia.[11]

Pharmaceutical industry driven large-scale studies are unlikely to be undertaken given the low-cost of niacin. David is up against the formidable Goliath of players promoting costly noncalcium containing phosphorus binders. It is time that international bodies like Kidney Disease, Improving Global Outcomes (KDIGO) take a call on usefulness of niacin as a low-cost, effective, and low pill burden agent for phosphorus reduction in CKD with multiple pleotropic benefits.

  References Top

Shimoda K, Akiba T, Matsushima T, Rai T, Abe K, Hoshino M. Niceritrol decreases serum phosphate levels in chronic hemodialysis patients [in Japanese]. Nippon Jinzo Gakkai Shi 1998;40:1-7.  Back to cited text no. 1
Sampathkumar K, Selvam M, Sooraj YS, Gowthaman S, Ajeshkumar RN. Extended release nicotinic acid – A novel oral agent for phosphate control. Int Urol Nephrol 2006;38:171-4.  Back to cited text no. 2
Streja E, Kovesdy CP, Streja DA, Moradi H, Kalantar-Zadeh K, Kashyap ML. Niacin and Progression of CKD. Am J Kidney Dis 2015;65:785-798.  Back to cited text no. 3
Vasantha J, Soundararajan P, Vanitharani N, Kannan G, Thennarasu P, Neenu G, et al. Safety and efficacy of nicotinamide in the management of hyperphosphatemia in patients on hemodialysis. Indian J Nephrol 2011;21:245-9.  Back to cited text no. 4
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Edalat-Nejad M, Talaiei A, Zameni F. The effect of niacin on serum phosphorus levels in dialysis patients. Indian J Nephrol 2012;22:174.  Back to cited text no. 5
[PUBMED]  Medknow Journal  
Sabbagh Y, O'Brien SP, Song W, Boulanger JH, Stockmann A, Arbeeny C, et al. Intestinal npt2b plays a major role in phosphate absorption and homeostasis. J Am Soc Nephrol 2009;20:2348-58.  Back to cited text no. 6
Chiu YW, Teitelbaum I, Misra M, de Leon EM, Adzize T, Mehrotra R. Pill burden, adherence, hyperphosphatemia, and quality of life in maintenance dialysis patients. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol 2009;4:1089-96.  Back to cited text no. 7
Sampathkumar K. Niacin and analogs for phosphate control in dialysis – perspective from a developing country. Int Urol Nephrol 2009;41:913-8.  Back to cited text no. 8
Ganji SH, Qin S, Zhang L, Kamanna VS, Kashyap ML. Niacin inhibits vascular oxidative stress, redox-sensitive genes, and monocyte adhesion to human aortic endothelial cells. Atherosclerosis 2009;202:68-75.  Back to cited text no. 9
Guyton JR, Simmons PD. Flushing and other dermatologic adverse events associated with extended-release niacin therapy. J Clin Lipidol 2009;3:101-8.  Back to cited text no. 10
He YM, Feng L, Huo DM, Yang ZH, Liao YH. Benefits and harm of niacin and its analog for renal dialysis patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Int Urol Nephrol 2014;46:433-42.  Back to cited text no. 11


  [Table 1]


Print this article  Email this article


Indian Journal of Nephrology
Published by Wolters Kluwer - Medknow
Online since 20th Sept '07