Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is highly prevalent and strongly associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Because traditional CVD risk factors do not fully explain the link between CKD and CVD, it is likely that """"""""non-traditional"""""""" risk factors that are altered in CKD may be involved. Among such factors, higher serum phosphorus (Pi) levels represent a causal candidate, and may be modifiable. Higher serum Pi induces arterial calcification, arterial stiffness, and left ventricular hypertrophy in animals. Similar fidings are observed in humans, and higher Pi levels are also associated with the development and progression of CKD, CVD events and mortality in humans. The KDIGO international clinical practice guidelines recommend targeting Pi within the normal range and recommends using oral phosphorus binders (OPBs) to do so. However, since the recommendations were published, studies have consistently shown that OPBs have minimal efficacy for Pi lowering in CKD stage 3-4, even with very high doses and pill burden, and may be associated with harm. In contrast, animal studies and pilot studies in humans show that nicotinamide (vitamin B3) substantially lowers serum Pi levels, and can do so with only 1-2 pills/day. Nicotinamide reduces Pi through a different mechanism. Rather than binding Pi, it blocks intestinal Pi absorption by down-regulating a key intestinal Pi transporter. The lipid drug niacin contains both nicotinamide and nicotinic acid, and we have shown that it lowers Pi in CKD patients. However, nicotinamide alone may have advantages. Unlike niacin, it does not cause flushing, liver test abnormalities, hyperuricemia, or insulin resistance. Nicotinamide has considerable long-term safety data in the general population, is available over the counter as a dietary supplement in the US, and would cost about $2/patient/month. Thus, nicotinamide may provide a readily available, well-tolerated, inexpensive, and convenient method to lower serum Pi levels in patients with CKD. However, the efficacy of nicotinamide for Pi lowering in CKD stage 3-4 is unknown. Moreover, the effects of nicotinamide on other components of mineral metabolism including urine phosphorus excretion and counter- regulatory hormones FGF23, PTH, and calcitriol are unknown. Changes in these factors may have their own influences on CVD, CKD progression, and bone health. Thus, nicotinamide is not yet ready for widespread clinical use in CKD patients. The efficacy for Pi lowering and effects on other components of mineral metabolism must first be established. We propose a phase 2, randomized double blind placebo controlled study among 150 patients with eGFR 20-45ml/min/1.73m2 treated with nicotinamide or placebo for 6 months. Our primary aims are to determine (1) the Pi lowering efficacy, (2) the effects of nicotinamide on other components of mineral metabolism including urine phosphorus excretion and Pi regulatory hormones. If effective and well tolerated, this study will rapidly alter the standard of care by introducing icotinamide for Pi lowering in CKD stage 3-4.

Public Health Relevance

Most patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) die of cardiovascular disease (CVD) before they ever progress to kidney failure, retention of serum phosphorus is a potential explanatory factor, and clinical practice guidelines suggest keeping serum phosphorus concentrations within the normal range in CKD patients. Existing therapies to lower phosphorus in CKD are minimally effective, and may cause harm. We have identified an inexpensive, readily available, convenient vitamin (nicotinamide) that substantially lowers serum phosphorus. This study will establish the phosphorus lowering efficacy of nicotinamide, and its effects on other components of mineral bone disease in CKD patients.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project--Cooperative Agreements (U01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Kidney, Nutrition, Obesity and Diabetes (KNOD)
Program Officer
Flessner, Michael Francis
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Veterans Medical Research Fdn/San Diego
San Diego
United States
Zip Code
Isakova, Tamara; Ix, Joachim H; Sprague, Stuart M et al. (2015) Rationale and Approaches to Phosphate and Fibroblast Growth Factor 23 Reduction in CKD. J Am Soc Nephrol 26:2328-39
Block, Geoffrey; Isakova, Tamara (2015) Tip-toeing toward the finish line. Nephrol Dial Transplant 30:1-3
Ix, Joachim H; Anderson, Cheryl A M; Smits, Gerard et al. (2014) Effect of dietary phosphate intake on the circadian rhythm of serum phosphate concentrations in chronic kidney disease: a crossover study. Am J Clin Nutr 100:1392-7
Anderson, Cheryl A M; Ix, Joachim H (2013) Sodium reduction in CKD: suggestively hazardous or intuitively advantageous? J Am Soc Nephrol 24:1931-3