Wernicke encephalopathy (WE) and Korsakoff psychosis (KP), collectively referred to as Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS), are distinct but overlapping neuropsychiatric disorders associated with thiamine deficiency.
Thiamine pyrophosphate, the biologically active form of thiamine, is essential for several biochemical pathways involved in carbohydrate utilization. Both genetic susceptibilities and acquired deficiencies resulting from alcoholic and nonalcoholic factors are associated with thiamine deficiency or its impaired utilization.
WKS is underdiagnosed because of inconsistent clinical presentation and overlap of symptoms with other neurologic disorders. Identification and individualized treatment of WWS based on etiology is critical to prevent the development of the amnestic state associated with KP in genetically predisposed individuals.
In this review, we bring together existing data from animal and human models to elucidate the etiopathogenesis, diagnosis, and therapeutic interventions for WE and KP.
J Basic Clin Physiol Pharmacol.: Review of thiamine deficiency disorders: Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff psychosis
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