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Diabetologia. 2010 Jul;53(7):1506-16. doi: 10.1007/s00125-010-1722-z. Epub 2010 Apr 6.

Increased protein damage in renal glomeruli, retina, nerve, plasma and urine and its prevention by thiamine and benfotiamine therapy in a rat model of diabetes.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Central Campus, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex, UK.



The aim of this study was to quantify protein damage by glycation, oxidation and nitration in a rat model of diabetes at the sites of development of microvascular complications, including the effects of thiamine and benfotiamine therapy.


Diabetes was induced in male Sprague-Dawley rats by 55 mg/kg streptozotocin and moderated by insulin (2 U twice daily). Diabetic and control rats were given thiamine or benfotiamine (7 or 70 mg kg(-1) day(-1)) over 24 weeks. Plasma, urine and tissues were collected and analysed for protein damage by stable isotopic dilution analysis MS.


There were two- to fourfold increases in fructosyl-lysine and AGE content of glomerular, retinal, sciatic nerve and plasma protein in diabetes. Increases in AGEs were reversed by thiamine and benfotiamine therapy but increases in fructosyl-lysine were not. Methionine sulfoxide content of plasma protein and 3-nitrotyrosine content of sciatic nerve protein were increased in diabetes. Plasma glycation free adducts were increased up to twofold in diabetes; the increases were reversed by thiamine. Urinary excretion of glycation, oxidation and nitration free adducts was increased by seven- to 27-fold in diabetes. These increases were reversed by thiamine and benfotiamine therapy.


AGEs, particularly arginine-derived hydroimidazolones, accumulate at sites of microvascular complication development and have markedly increased urinary excretion rates in experimental diabetes. Thiamine and benfotiamine supplementation prevented tissue accumulation and increased urinary excretion of protein glycation, oxidation and nitration adducts. Similar effects may contribute to the reversal of early-stage clinical diabetic nephropathy by thiamine.

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