Sunday, July 3, 2022

History and discovery of vitamin B3 (niacin)

Pellagra was first described in Spain by Don Gaspar Casal in 1735 after the introduction of maize into Europe from the America. Pellagra has sometimes been called the disease of the four Ds – dermatitis, diarrhoea, dementia and death.

In the 1920s, Goldberger in the United States reported that pellagra and black tongue in dogs responded to treatment with animal protein and also to boiled protein-free extracts of yeast.

Niacin was first described by chemist Hugo Weidel in 1873. It was extracted by Casimir Funk in 1912 while he was trying to find a cure for another disease known as beriberi, but he thought it to be thiamine.

Casimir Funk abandoned his work after finding that nicotinic acid had no effect on beriberi.

In 1915, American epidemiologist and US Public Health Service officer Joseph Goldberger conducted a classic series of observational and experimental studies in humans, combined with an extensive series of experiments with an animal model of the condition (black tongue in dogs).

Afterward, Conrad Elvehjem a biochemist from Wisconsin in 1937 extracted an active ingredient from livers that was referred as ‘pellagra-preventing factor’ and the ‘anti-black tongue factor’ called niacin.

In general, it has been termed as ‘vitamin PP,’ ‘vitamin P-P,’ and ‘PP factor.’ The name niacin comes from nicotinic acid + vitamin, to distance itself from the word nicotine, which the public knows as a toxic chemical found in tobacco.
History and discovery of vitamin B3 (niacin)

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