Peripheral neuropathy and myopathy. An experimental study of rats on alcohol and variable dietary thiamine

Virchows Arch A Pathol Anat Histol. 1979 Aug 23;383(3):241-52. doi: 10.1007/BF00430243.


The effects of variable dietary thiamine concentrations (deficient, normal, surplus) on the development of alcoholic neuromyopathy in rats exposed for 36 weeks to 10-25% (v/v) ethanol or water (control group) as the sole drinking fluid were studied by histological and electrophysiological methods. Abnormalities in the structure of the sciatic nerve (phagocytosis, myelin abnormalities, increase in nonspecific cholinesterase activity) and tibial muscles (angular atrophic fibers, group atrophy, fibre necrosis) developed more frequently in animals on diets deficient in thiamine than in animals on diets with normal or surplus thiamine, and more frequently in animals drinking alcohol and water than in those drinking water alone. No differences were observed between the different groups in the number of perivascular sympathetic nerves, in the motor nerve conduction velocities and in the muscle fibrillation potentials. Thus, thiamine deficiency, established as a significant reduction of red blood cell transketolase activity, seems to have a deleterious effect on the peripheral nerves and muscles. The effect is enhanced by the simultaneous consumption of ethyl alcohol.

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Muscular Atrophy / etiology
  • Muscular Diseases / etiology
  • Muscular Diseases / pathology*
  • Neural Conduction
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / complications
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / pathology*
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / etiology
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / pathology*
  • Phagocytosis
  • Rats
  • Sciatic Nerve / pathology
  • Thiamine Deficiency / complications
  • Thiamine Deficiency / pathology*