Niacin (Vitamin B3) Supplementation in Patients with Serotonin-Producing Neuroendocrine Tumor


Tryptophan is the precursor of serotonin and niacin (vitamin B3). The latter is critical for normal cellular metabolism. Tryptophan and niacin can be deficient in patients with serotonin-producing neuroendocrine tumors (NETs). Niacin deficiency may lead to severe symptoms including pellagra. In patients with serotonin-producing NET, data on niacin status are scarce and niacin supplementation hardly receives attention. We aimed to assess the niacin status before and after supplementation in these patients.


We identified serotonin-producing NET patients who had received oral niacin supplementation (mean dose 144 mg daily) for tryptophan deficiency and/or pellagra-associated symptoms. Presupplementation plasma tryptophan levels and niacin status based on the urinary niacin metabolite N1-methylnicotinamide (N1-MN) before (n = 42) and after the start of the supplementation (in 34 paired samples) were assessed. Reference values for urinary N1-MN levels were established in 133 healthy individuals.


The mean presupplementation plasma tryptophan level was 31.8 ± 9.7 µmol/l (reference value 40.0-70.0). Presupplementation urinary N1-MN levels were lower in patients (median 17.9 µmol/24 h, range 2.6-70.3) compared to healthy controls (median 43.7 µmol/24 h, range 9.5-169.3, p < 0.0001) and below normal in 45% of the patients. Niacin supplementation increased urinary N1-MN levels to high normal levels (median 55.5 µmol/24 h, range 7.4-489.0) in 86% of the niacin-deficient patients.


In serotonin-producing NET patients, niacin deficiency is prevalent. Therefore, urinary N1-MN deserves to be included in their standard biochemical evaluation. Niacin supplementation normalizes the niacin status in most niacin-deficient serotonin-producing NET patients. A prospective study is warranted.

year of publication



  • Neuroendocrinology


  • Bouma, G
  • van Faassen, M
  • Kats-Ugurlu, G
  • de Vries, EG
  • Kema, IP
  • Walenkamp, AM

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