Biochemistry: Hushing the flush

    J. Clin. Invest. doi:10.1172/JCI36806 (2009)

    Niacin lowers disease-causing triglycerides and boosts 'good' high-density lipoproteins. But it also triggers a burning 'flush' sensation in humans. Robert Lefkowitz and his colleagues at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, now report that niacin's benefits and side effects may occur through different pathways mediated by the same G-protein-coupled receptor, GPR109A.

    When the team exposed human cells expressing GPR109A to niacin, a protein called β-arrestin 1 flocked to the receptor, triggering a downstream flood of the molecule arachidonate, which causes the flushing response. In mice lacking β-arrestin 1, niacin improved fatty acid levels with minimal flushing. Lefkowitz, founder of a company seeking drugs targeting G-protein-coupled receptors, suggests the results could help scientists to find treatments with niacin's benefits but no flush.

    Rights and permissions

    Reprints and Permissions

    About this article

    Cite this article

    Biochemistry: Hushing the flush. Nature 458, 948 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/458948b

    Download citation

    Comments

    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.