Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.
Related to pellagra: beriberi


(pəlăg`rə), deficiency disease due to a lack of niacin (nicotinic acid), one of the components of the B complex vitamins in the diet. Niacin is plentiful in yeast, organ meats, peanuts, and wheat germ. The disease manifests itself in lesions of the skin and mucous membrane, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms, neurological derangement, and mental confusion. It is most common in areas where the diet consists mainly of corn, which, unlike other grains, lacks niacin as well as the amino acid tryptophan, which the body uses to synthesize the vitamin. Treatment includes large doses of niacin and the institution of a proper diet to prevent recurrences.


See D. A. Roe, A Plague of Corn: A Social History of Pellagra (1973).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



avitaminosis caused by a vitamin PP (nicotinic acid) deficiency. It is manifested by disorders of the skin (dermatitis, generally on the face and neck), alimentary canal (ulceration of the lingual and intestinal mucosa and impairment of gastric secretion and motility), and nervous system (polyneuritis). Treatment involves the administration of nicotinic acid, usually combined with other B-complex vitamins, and adherence to a balanced diet, which includes foods rich in the B vitamins (yeast, liver, eggs, beans) and tryptophan (milk), from which vitamin PP is synthesized in the body.


Efremov, V. Pellagra: Etiologiia, patogenez i klinika. Moscow-Leningrad, 1934.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


A disease caused by nicotinic acid deficiency characterized by skin lesions, inflammation of the soft tissues of the mouth, diarrhea, and central nervous system disorders.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


Pathol a disease caused by a dietary deficiency of nicotinic acid, characterized by burning or itching often followed by scaling of the skin, inflammation of the mouth, diarrhoea, mental impairment, etc.
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Pellagra is a nutritional disorder caused by the deficiency of niacin and is characterized classically with three 3 Ds, namely dermatitis, diarrhea and dementia.1 These classical manifestations are rarely seen nowadays, especially due to dietary deficiency alone.2 We report a case of pellagra with the classical dermatological manifestations on the hands and feet but no involvement of the facial and neck region.
Table Types of Nutrient Deficiency Caused by Heavy Drinking and the Associated Signs and Symptoms Selected Nutrient Deficiency Signs/Symptoms Magnesium Insulin resistance, muscle cramps Selenium Myopathy, cardiomyopathy Vitamin B1/Thiamine Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, neurologic symptoms Vitamin B2/Riboflavin Glossitis, cheilitis, and lingual papillae atrophy Vitamin A/Retinol Abnormal dark adaptation, rough skin Vitamin C Scurvy with purpura and petechiae Vitamin D Altered bone metabolism, altered gut barrier/immune function Vitamin E Oxidative stress Niacin Skin photosensitivity, confusion, pellagra Folate, S-Adenosylmethionine Anemia, altered methylation, epigenetic effects
This could have been a way for Lind to get funding for his scurvy trial; Snow for his cholera work; Goldberger for pellagra; Winkelstein for cervical cancer; a way for us to more easily cross the divide between infectious and chronic diseases; to obtain funding for studies of, say, blood type and social determinants of health.
4 (1915) The world's first pellagra experiment, which proved that the chronic disease was caused by a niacin deficiency, was begun at a Rankin County branch of the Mississippi State Penitentiary by Dr Joseph Goldberger.
Pellagra psychosis due to niacin deficiency was hidden under the schizophrenia umbrella.
They were intended to reflect the best scientific judgment on nutrient allowances for the maintenance of good health and to serve as the basis for evaluating the adequacy of diets and preventing diseases linked to nutritional deficiencies, such as rickets, scurvy, beriberi, pellagra, and goiter.
Vitamin [B.sub.3] deficiency causes pellagra, characterised by a photosensitive dermatitis, like severe sunburn, typically with a butterfly-like pattern of distribution over the face, affecting all parts of the skin that are exposed to sunlight.
Besides poverty and illiteracy, scourges including pellagra, rickets, hookworm, yellow fever, and malaria meant that "conditions in the state were so bad that Northern life insurance companies refused to write policies for Mississippians" (246).
In the past, this hypothesis has been highly useful when applied to the task of reducing human illness, an example of its usefulness is the identification of the nutritional deficit that causes the previously common disease pellagra. Assuming that all such nutritional illnesses have been discovered is unwarranted.
A Plague of Corn: The Social History of Pellagra (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press).