Thiamine (vitamin B1) improves endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in the presence of hyperglycemia

Ann Vasc Surg. 2006 Sep;20(5):653-8. doi: 10.1007/s10016-006-9055-6. Epub 2006 May 31.


Brachial artery vasoactivity (BAVA) is a reliable, noninvasive method of assessing endothelium-dependent vasodilatation (EDV) in vivo. Acute hyperglycemia, impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), and diabetes mellitus impair EDV, a precursor to atherosclerosis. Thiamine is a coenzyme important in intracellular glucose metabolism. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of thiamine on BAVA in the presence of hyperglycemia. Ten healthy subjects (group H, mean age 27 years), 10 patients with impaired glucose tolerance by World Health Organization criteria (group IGT, mean age 65 years), and 10 patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (group NIDDM, mean age 50 years) were studied. Duplex ultrasound was used to measure brachial artery flow changes in response to reactive hyperemia following brachial artery tourniquet occlusion for 5 min. This test was performed after a 10 hr fast and at 30, 60, and 120 min after a 75 g oral glucose challenge along with measurements of blood glucose level (BGL). A week later, BAVA evaluation was repeated after administration of 100 mg of intravenous thiamine. BAVA (% increased blood flow) at peak and trough BGL was compared with and without thiamine. BAVA at peak glucose improved from 69.0 +/- 6.4% to 152.8 +/- 22.9% in group H (p < 0.005), from 57.6 +/- 12.6% to 139.7 +/- 12.4% in group IGT (p < 0.005), and from 57.8 +/- 8.3% to 167.8 +/- 11.6% in group NIDDM (p < 0.005) following administration of thiamine. On the other hand, at trough glucose levels, BAVA remained essentially unchanged in group H (prethiamine 83.8 +/- 6.5% vs. post-thiamine 83.8 +/- 17.0%, p > 0.05) as well as group IGT (prethiamine 96.7 +/- 8.5% vs. post-thiamine 104.0 +/- 17.4%, p > 0.05). BAVA at trough glucose was not measured in group NIDDM secondary to trough BGL > 140 mg/dL. EDV was improved by thiamine in the presence of hyperglycemia in healthy subjects and in patients with IGT and NIDDM. The mechanism by which thiamine improves EDV is not due to a glucose-lowering effect as thiamine had no effect on EDV under normoglycemic conditions. Routine administration of thiamine might improve endothelial function and therefore slow the development and progression of atherosclerosis, especially in patients with IGT and NIDDM who are prone to develop accelerated atherosclerosis.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Flow Velocity / drug effects
  • Blood Glucose
  • Brachial Artery / drug effects*
  • Brachial Artery / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance / physiopathology
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Humans
  • Hyperemia / physiopathology
  • Hyperglycemia / blood
  • Hyperglycemia / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Thiamine / pharmacology*
  • Vasodilation / drug effects*
  • Vasodilator Agents / pharmacology*
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin B Complex / pharmacology*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Vitamin B Complex
  • Thiamine