Despite the targeting of traditional risk factors for cardiovascular disease, disease burden has not been completely eliminated. Thiamine is an essential cofactor in carbohydrate metabolism and individuals with diabetes are thiamine deficient. The pathophysiology of recognised complications of thiamine deficiency is similar to that underlying atherosclerosis and the metabolic syndrome, namely oxidative stress, inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. This review examines the mechanisms by which thiamine deficiency occurs in individuals with diabetes, how this deficiency leads to hyperglycaemic-induced damage, and the effect of thiamine replacement on vascular disease, endothelial function and oxidative stress. Thiamine administration can prevent the formation of harmful by-products of glucose metabolism, reduce oxidative stress and improve endothelial function. The potential benefit of long-term replacement in those with diabetes is not yet known but may reduce cardiovascular risk and angiopathic complications.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.