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Clin Chem. 2008 May;54(5):901-6. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2007.099077. Epub 2008 Mar 20.

Rapid HPLC measurement of thiamine and its phosphate esters in whole blood.

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ARUP Institute for Clinical and Experimental Pathology, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.



Thiamine (vitamin B(1)) deficiency is associated with severe diseases such as beriberi and Wernicke encephalopathy. Although most Americans have sufficient dietary intake, thiamine deficiency is observed in the alcohol-dependent and elderly populations. Measurement of thiamine concentration in whole blood provides an assessment of vitamin B(1) status in at-risk individuals.


We used TCA to precipitate proteins in whole blood. Thiamine and its phosphate esters were derivatized using potassium ferricyanide to thiochromes, which were separated by gradient elution on a reversed-phase HPLC column and detected by fluorescence. The method was validated for linearity, limit of quantification, imprecision, accuracy, and interference. Results obtained with this method were compared with those produced by the method currently used in our clinical laboratory. Reference values of thiamine and its phosphate esters were determined in samples obtained from self-reported healthy adults who were not taking vitamin supplements. To shorten analysis time, our method used whole blood rather than washed erythrocytes, did not require lengthy enzymatic dephosphorylation, and had a simple mobile phase.


The method was linear to 4000 nmol/L. The lower limit of quantification was 3 nmol/L. The within-run CV was <3.5% and total CV was <9.4%. This method correlated with our current method (r = 0.97). Approximately 90% of the total thiamine content in whole blood was present as thiamine diphosphate (TDP). The means (ranges) for an apparently healthy population were 114 (70-179) nmol/L for TDP and 125 (75-194) nmol/L for total thiamine. Results for separation and measurement of free thiamine and thiamine phosphate esters in whole blood were obtained within 5.5 min.


We developed an HPLC method that allows separation and measurement of free thiamine and thiamine phosphate esters in whole blood and provides more rapid results than other methods.

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