A recent study in mice suggests that a vitamin supplement, specifically a type of vitamin B3 called nicotinamide riboside, could potentially alleviate chronic pain. Chronic pain is often caused by inflammation, but some individuals continue to experience discomfort even after the inflammation has resolved. Researchers from Utrecht University in the Netherlands investigated the impact of inflammation on mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells. Previous studies have linked dysfunctional mitochondria, particularly those in sensory neurons, to chronic pain.
The team induced inflammation in the hind paws of 15 mice and measured the oxygen consumption of mitochondria in their sensory neurons. They found that even after the inflammation had subsided, the mitochondria consumed significantly more oxygen than before, suggesting lasting changes in their function. These changes were also associated with increased pain sensitivity in the mice. The researchers then analyzed the mitochondrial metabolites in the animals and discovered lower levels of nicotinamide riboside after inflammation had resolved. Nicotinamide riboside is essential for mitochondrial function.
To test the potential pain-alleviating effects of nicotinamide riboside, the researchers administered a high dose of the vitamin supplement to a separate group of mice. These mice showed reduced pain sensitivity compared to the control group.
However, it is important to note that these findings are based on research conducted in rodents, and their translation to humans is uncertain. Clinical trials are needed to determine if nicotinamide riboside has any effect or unintended consequences in humans. Additionally, these findings may only apply to certain types of chronic pain, such as those associated with chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
In conclusion, this study suggests that inflammation can impair mitochondrial function in sensory neurons, leading to chronic pain even after inflammation has subsided. Nicotinamide riboside supplements may help alleviate this pain by restoring mitochondrial function. However, further research is necessary, and the potential benefits may only apply to specific types of chronic pain. Anyone with chronic pain should consult with a healthcare professional before considering vitamin supplements.