Saturday, 11 August 2007

Thiamine deficiency linked to vascular disease

Filed under: , , , , ,

Many people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes have to deal with vascular problems. Just ask my brother. A type 1 for over 30 years, he has diabetic retinopathy and had a stroke in his late 30s. Microvascular complications can cause kidney disease, vision disorders and neuropathy, while macrovascular complications can cause heart disease, stroke and peripheral vascular disease.

Researchers at the University of Warwick have definitively shown diabetics are deficient in thiamine (vitamin B1), and the deficiency is connected to vascular complications associated with the disease. The research team found thiamine concentration in blood plasma was decreased 76 percent in type 1s and 75 percent in type 2s. Why is this only being discovered now? Previously, conventional assessment of thiamine levels involved measuring the activity of an enzyme (transketolase) in red blood cells. Past research observed normal enzyme activity, thus, thiamine levels were assumed normal. However, the 'normal' activity was actually due to increased levels of two proteins that aid in thiamine transport into red blood cells. Turns out increased levels of the proteins were triggered by a deficiency of thiamine. Who knew?

Researchers also found thiamine deficiency in vascular cells is linked to a marker of those serious microvascular and macrovascular complications in people with diabetes. Most discouragingly, ingesting a thiamine supplement with your eggs and toast is of no help. Decreased plasma thiamine concentration in clinical diabetes has nothing to do with diet, it is due to a marked increase of thiamine removal from the blood into the urine.

On the bright side, at least we know diabetics are deficient in thiamine, and it is related to vascular problems. I'm sure a cascade of new research is on the way.

No comments: