Thiamin function, metabolism, uptake, and transport

Biochemistry. 2014 Feb 11;53(5):821-35. doi: 10.1021/bi401618y. Epub 2014 Jan 31.


Vitamins are crucial components in the diet of animals and many other living organisms. One of these essential nutrients, thiamin, is known to be involved in several cell functions, including energy metabolism and the degradation of sugars and carbon skeletons. Other roles that are connected to this vitamin are neuronal communication, immune system activation, signaling and maintenance processes in cells and tissues, and cell-membrane dynamics. Because of the key functions of thiamin, uptake and transport through the body are crucial. Its uptake route is relatively complex, encompassing a variety of protein families, including the solute carrier anion transporters, the alkaline phosphatase transport system, and the human extraneuronal monoamine transporter family, some of which are multispecific proteins. There are two known structures of protein (subunits) involved in thiamin uptake in prokaryotes. Binding of thiamin to these proteins is strongly guided by electrostatic interactions. The lack of structural information about thiamin binding proteins for higher organisms remains a bottleneck for understanding the uptake process of thiamin in atomic detail. This review includes recent data on thiamin metabolism, related deficiencies and pathologies, and the latest findings on thiamin binding transporters.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acid Phosphatase / metabolism
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immune System / metabolism
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Organ Specificity
  • Thiamine / metabolism*
  • Thiamine Deficiency / metabolism


  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Acid Phosphatase
  • Thiamine