Pellagra Encephalopathy in the Context of Alcoholism: Review and Case Report

  1. Marta López1,*,
  2. José M. Olivares1 and
  3. German E. Berrios2
  1. 1Department of Psychiatry, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario de Vigo, Vigo, Spain
  2. 2Robinson College, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
  1. *Corresponding author: Servicio de Psiquiatría, Hospital Meixoeiro, Complejo Hospitalario Universitario de Vigo, Avda. do Meixoeiro, s/n, 36214 Vigo, Spain. Tel.: +34-986811150; E-mail: marta.lopez.almarza{at}
  • Received February 11, 2013.
  • Revision requested April 12, 2013.
  • Revision received April 15, 2013.
  • Accepted June 11, 2013.

Aims: The aim of the study was to review and describe the Alcoholic Pellagra Encephalopathy, a severe neuropsychiatric condition caused by a combination of niacin (vitamin B3) deficiency and alcohol abuse. Methods: PsychInfo, Medline and Embase databases were searched for peer-reviewed studies addressing this illness. Results: A historical and conceptual review of the psychopathological aspects of this condition is offered, followed by the report of a patient with a history of chronic alcohol consumption showing signs of pellagra, delusions and visual hallucinations, which was treated successfully with niacin. Conclusion: Pellagra encephalopathy should still be considered in the differential diagnosis of acute psychotic disorders seen in the context of chronic alcoholism.