OBJECTIVE: To determine if niacin can confer cardiovascular benefit by inhibiting vascular inflammation and improving endothelial function independent of changes in plasma lipid and lipoprotein levels. METHODS AND RESULTS: New Zealand white rabbits received normal chow or chow supplemented with 0.6% or 1.2% (wt/wt) niacin. This regimen had no effect on plasma cholesterol, triglyceride, or high-density lipoprotein levels. Acute vascular inflammation and endothelial dysfunction were induced in the animals with a periarterial carotid collar. At the 24-hour postcollar implantation, the endothelial expression of vascular cell adhesion molecule-1, intercellular adhesion molecule-1, and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 was markedly decreased in the niacin-supplemented animals compared with controls. Niacin also inhibited intima-media neutrophil recruitment and myeloperoxidase accumulation, enhanced endothelial-dependent vasorelaxation and cyclic guanosine monophosphate production, increased vascular reduced glutathione content, and protected against hypochlorous acid-induced endothelial dysfunction and tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced vascular inflammation. CONCLUSION: Previous human intervention studies have demonstrated that niacin inhibits coronary artery disease. This benefit is thought to be because of its ability to reduce low-density lipoprotein and plasma triglyceride levels and increase high-density lipoprotein levels. The present study showed that niacin inhibits vascular inflammation and protects against endothelial dysfunction independent of these changes in plasma lipid levels.
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