Impaired Thiamine Metabolism in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Its Potential Treatment With Benfotiamine: A Case Report and a Review of the Literature

Cureus. 2023 Jun 16;15(6):e40511. doi: 10.7759/cureus.40511. eCollection 2023 Jun.


Homogenates of brain tissue from the frontal cortex at autopsy in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) showed dramatically reduced levels of the enzyme thiamine pyrophosphatase (TPPase), the enzyme responsible for the conversion of thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP) to thiamine monophosphate (TMP). Additionally, free thiamine (vitamin B1) and TMP levels have been shown to be significantly reduced in the plasma and cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) of patients with ALS. These findings suggest that there is impaired thiamine metabolism in patients with ALS. Impaired thiamine metabolism decreases adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production and is a well-established cause of neurodegeneration. Decreased levels of TPPase, resulting in decreased levels of TMP in the cells of the frontal cortex, might account for the focal neurodegenerative changes observed in motor neurons in ALS. Benfotiamine, a safe, lipid-soluble, highly absorbable thiamine analogue, significantly raises free thiamine, TMP, and TPP levels in the blood. A case in which benfotiamine may have positively impacted the symptoms of a patient with ALS is presented. The use of benfotiamine in patients with ALS appears to be a promising therapeutic option. Considering the severity and the lack of satisfactory treatment options associated with this disease, more research on the effects of benfotiamine on the course of ALS is urgently needed.

Keywords: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; benfotiamine; motor neuron disease; neurodegeneration; neurodegenerative disease; thiamin; thiamine; thiamine deficiency; vitamin b1; vitamin b1 deficiency.

Publication types

  • Case Reports