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Effects of nicotinic acid on insulin sensitivity and blood pressure in healthy subjects


Insulin resistance and hyperinsulinaemia are associated with hypertension although a causative relationship has not been established. The aim of this study was to determine whether a short term reduction in insulin sensitivity induced by nicotinic acid treatment (NA) would alter blood pressure. The study was a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled cross-over study. Seven healthy volunteers, three males and four females were randomised to placebo or NA 500 mg daily for 7 days then 1 g daily for a further 7 days. Hyperinsulinaemic euglycaemic clamp, indirect calorimetry, 24-h ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) and forearm blood flow measurement (FABF) were performed at day 14 of each treatment phase. NA significantly reduced the glucose infusion rate required to maintain euglycaemia in all subjects (placebo vs NA; 31.5 ± 4.2 vs 26.2 ± 4.6 μmol/kg/min, P = 0.002) associated with a decrease in non-oxidative glucose disposal. NA did not significantly alter 24-h mean systolic or diastolic blood pressure. Fasting glucose, insulin and non-esterified free fatty acid (NEFA) levels remained unchanged, energy expenditure and substrate oxidation were not altered by NA. These results suggest a short term reduction in insulin sensitivity with NA is not accompanied by a change in blood pressure. This may relate to the short duration of treatment, to a dissociation between insulin resistance and hypertension or to other homeostatic mechanisms which prevent blood pressure rising in subjects not predisposed to hypertension.

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Correspondence to JJ Kelly.

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Kelly, J., Lawson, J., Campbell, L. et al. Effects of nicotinic acid on insulin sensitivity and blood pressure in healthy subjects. J Hum Hypertens 14, 567–572 (2000).

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  • nicotinic acid
  • insulin resistance
  • blood pressure

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