Pyrithiamine-induced thiamin deficiency has been used in rat as an experimental form of Wernicke-Korsakoff encephalopathy, a disease associated with chronic alcoholism. Although the main etiological factor is known to be the lack of thiamin, the biochemical mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis remain unclear. Thiamin-dependent enzymes were studied in brain mitochondria: α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase activity exhibited 40% reduction, whereas pyruvate dehydrogenase did not change significantly. Polarographic recordings of mitochondrial respiration revealed a decreased State 3, when using pyruvate/malate, α-ketoglutarate or glutamine as a substrate, but the respiration rates remained unchanged with glutamate or succinate. This fall in pyruvate oxidation may be due to the impairment of α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase, which follows pyruvate dehydrogenase in the metabolic pathway. A time course of lactate concentration showed dramatic increases in thalamus, mid brain, hypothalamus and colliculli, consistent with the anatomopathological findings. No increases were found before the onset of neurological symptoms.
- Lactic acidosis
- Mitochondrial respiration
- Pyruvate dehydrogenase
- α-Ketoglutarate dehydrogenase