A widely available derivative of vitamin B1 prevents the progression of diabetic complications such as retinal damage, Michael Brownlee and his colleagues report in the March issue of Nature Medicine. Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of blindness among adults.
Chronically high glucose levels in diabetics can, over time, damage the eyes, nerves, kidneys and other tissues. A group of glucose-derived compounds called "triosephosphates" accumulate to abnormally high levels in the cells of diabetics. The researchers show that benfotiamine acts by activating an enzyme called transketolase, which diverts the production of harmful triosephosphates to the more benign pentosephosphates.
The researchers fed diabetic rats benfotiamine, a fat-soluble synthetic analog of thiamine or vitamin B1, for 9 months. The compound prevents three major pathways of high-glucose damage and prevents diabetic retinopathy, the researchers found. Their results also shed mechanistic light on how elevated glucose levels damage tissues.
Diabetes Research Center
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
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(C) Nature Medicine press release.
Message posted by: Trevor M. D'Souza
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