Role of thiamine in Alzheimer's disease

Am J Alzheimers Dis Other Demen. 2011 Dec;26(8):588-98. doi: 10.1177/1533317511432736. Epub 2012 Jan 4.


Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia in elderly individuals and is associated with progressive neurodegeneration of the human neocortex. Thiamine levels and the activity of thiamine-dependent enzymes are reduced in the brains and peripheral tissues of patients with AD. Genetic studies have provided the opportunity to determine what proteins link thiamine to AD pathology (ie, transketolase, apolipoprotein E, α-1-antitrypsin, pyruvate dehydrogenase complex, p53, glycogen synthetase kinase-3β, c-Fos gene, the Sp1 promoter gene, and the poly(ADP-ribosyl) polymerase-1 gene). We reviewed the association between histopathogenesis and neurotransmitters to understand the relationship between thiamine and AD pathology. Oral thiamine trials have been shown to improve the cognitive function of patients with AD; however, absorption of thiamine is poor in elderly individuals. In the early stage of thiamine-deficient encephalopathy (Wernicke's encephalopathy), however, parental thiamine has been used successfully. Therefore, further studies are needed to determine the benefits of using parental thiamine as a treatment for AD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alzheimer Disease / etiology*
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology
  • Brain / enzymology
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex / metabolism
  • Thiamine / metabolism*
  • Thiamine Deficiency / complications*
  • Thiamine Deficiency / enzymology
  • Thiamine Pyrophosphate / metabolism*
  • Transketolase / metabolism


  • Pyruvate Dehydrogenase Complex
  • Transketolase
  • Thiamine Pyrophosphate
  • Thiamine