[Thiamine and its derivatives in the regulation of cell metabolism]

Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2011 Jul 6:65:447-69. doi: 10.5604/17322693.951633.
[Article in Polish]


For over 70 years thiamine (vitamin B1) has aroused the interest of biologists, biochemists and medical doctors because of its multilateral participation in key biochemical and physiological processes. The thiamine molecule is composed of pyrimidine and thiazole rings which are linked by a methylene bridge. It is synthesized by microorganisms, fungi and plants, whereas animals and humans have to obtain it from food. There are several known forms of vitamin B1 inside cells: free thiamine, three phosphate esters (mono-, di-, and triphosphate), and the recently found adenosine thiamine triphosphate. Thiamine has a dual, coenzymatic and non-coenzymatic role. First of all, it is a precursor of thiamin diphosphate, which is a coenzyme for over 20 characterized enzymes which are involved in cell bioenergetic processes leading to the synthesis of ATP. Moreover, these enzymes take part in the biosynthesis of pentose (required for the synthesis of nucleotides), amino acids and other organic compounds of cell metabolism. On the other hand, recent discoveries show the non-coenzymatic role of thiamine derivatives in the process of regulation of gene expression (riboswitches in microorganisms and plants), the stress response, and perhaps so far unknown signal transduction pathways associated with adverse environmental conditions, or transduction of nerve signals with participation of thiamine triphosphate and adenosine thiamine triphosphate. From the clinical point of view thiamine deficiency is related to beri-beri, Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and other pathologies of the nervous system, and it is successfully applied in medical practice. On the other hand, identifying new synthetic analogues of thiamine which could be used as cytostatics, herbicides or agents preventing deficiency of vitamin B1 is currently the major goal of the research. In this paper we present the current state of knowledge of thiamine and its derivatives, indicating the participation of these compounds in the regulation of cell metabolism at both the coenzymatic and non-coenzymatic level.

Publication types

  • English Abstract
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cells / drug effects*
  • Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Thiamine / metabolism*
  • Thiamine / pharmacology*


  • Thiamine