The relationship between lactate and thiamine levels in patients with diabetic ketoacidosis

J Crit Care. 2014 Feb;29(1):182.e5-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jcrc.2013.06.008. Epub 2013 Aug 28.


Purpose: Thiamine functions as an important cofactor in aerobic metabolism and thiamine deficiency can contribute to lactic acidosis. Although increased rates of thiamine deficiency have been described in diabetic outpatients, this phenomenon has not been studied in relation to diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). In the present study, we hypothesize that thiamine deficiency is associated with elevated lactate in patients with DKA.

Materials and methods: This was a prospective observational study of patients presenting to a tertiary care center with DKA. Patient demographics, laboratory results, and outcomes were recorded. A one-time blood draw was performed and analyzed for plasma thiamine levels.

Results: Thirty-two patients were enrolled. Eight patients (25%) were thiamine deficient, with levels lower than 9 nmol/L. A negative correlation between lactic acid and plasma thiamine levels was found (r = -0.56, P = .002). This relationship remained significant after adjustment for APACHE II scores (P = .009). Thiamine levels were directly related to admission serum bicarbonate (r = 0.44, P = .019), and patients with thiamine deficiency maintained lower bicarbonate levels over the first 24 hours (slopes parallel with a difference of 4.083, P = .002).

Conclusions: Patients with DKA had a high prevalence of thiamine deficiency. Thiamine levels were inversely related to lactate levels among patients with DKA. A study of thiamine supplementation in DKA is warranted.

Keywords: Diabetes mellitus; Diabetic ketoacidosis; Lactic acidosis; Thiamine; Thiamine deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis, Lactic / epidemiology
  • Adult
  • Comorbidity
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis / blood*
  • Diabetic Ketoacidosis / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Thiamine / blood*
  • Thiamine Deficiency / epidemiology*


  • Lactic Acid
  • Thiamine