00:00 / 00:00
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
von Hippel-Lindau disease
Acoustic neuroma (schwannoma)
Adult brain tumors
Pediatric brain tumors
Transient ischemic attack
Cavernous sinus thrombosis
Spinocerebellar ataxia (NORD)
Tethered spinal cord syndrome
Lewy body dementia
Normal pressure hydrocephalus
Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis
Central pontine myelinolysis
JC virus (Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy)
Idiopathic intracranial hypertension
Opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome (NORD)
Restless legs syndrome
Early infantile epileptic encephalopathy (NORD)
Cauda equina syndrome
Treponema pallidum (Syphilis)
Vitamin B12 deficiency
Concussion and traumatic brain injury
Spinal muscular atrophy
Carpal tunnel syndrome
Thoracic outlet syndrome
Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome
Adult brain tumors: Pathology review
Central nervous system infections: Pathology review
Cerebral vascular disease: Pathology review
Congenital neurological disorders: Pathology review
Dementia: Pathology review
Demyelinating disorders: Pathology review
Headaches: Pathology review
Movement disorders: Pathology review
Neurocutaneous disorders: Pathology review
Neuromuscular junction disorders: Pathology review
Pediatric brain tumors: Pathology review
Seizures: Pathology review
Spinal cord disorders: Pathology review
Traumatic brain injury: Pathology review
Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome is named after Carl Wernicke and Sergei Korsakoff, the physicians who discovered the condition in the late 1800s. Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome is caused by Vitamin B1 or thiamine deficiency and it refers to a spectrum of disease. Wernicke's encephalopathy is the acute, reversible stage of the syndrome, and if left untreated it can later lead to Korsakoff syndrome, which is chronic and irreversible.
Thiamine is typically stored in the liver and absorbed in the jejunum and ileum, and then moves throughout the body, where it’s involved in numerous cellular processes that require thiamine. The enzyme thiamine pyrophosphate synthetase transfers a pyrophosphate group from ATP to thiamine, turning it into the coenzyme thiamine pyrophosphate - which is the metabolically active form of thiamine. Now, as a coenzyme, thiamine pyrophosphate functions to assist other enzymes such as pyruvate dehydrogenase, alpha-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase, and transketolase carry out reactions, particularly regarding glucose metabolism. Furthermore, within the brain, thiamine pyrophosphate helps metabolize lipids and carbohydrates as well as maintain normal amino acid and neurotransmitter levels. In some neurons, thiamine even helps with propagation of a neural impulses down the axon.
Given it’s multifaceted role, a deficiency of thiamine can have serious consequences. Specifically, thiamine deficiency impairs glucose metabolism and this leads to a decrease in cellular energy. One of the major causes of thiamine deficiency, and therefore Wernicke Korsakoff syndrome, is alcohol abuse. Alcohol leads to decreased thiamine levels in various ways. First, alcohol interferes with the conversion of thiamine to its active form, thiamine pyrophosphate by blocking the phosphorylation of thiamine. Second, thiamine is normally absorbed through the first portion of the small intestine called the duodenum. However, ethanol prevents this absorption process, and it is believed that alcohol does this by reducing the gene expression for thiamine transporter-1 within the intestinal brush border. Third, chronic alcohol abuse can lead to fatty liver or cirrhosis which interferes with the storage of thiamine within the liver. Other causes of thiamine deficiency are inadequate intake like in malnutrition and anorexia or due to malabsorption like in stomach cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome (WKS) is a neurological disorder caused by a deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B1), often due to chronic alcohol abuse. It is a combination of Wernicke encephalopathy and Korsakoff syndrome, presenting with confusion, ophthalmoplegia, and ataxia. Wernicke encephalopathy can progress to Korsakoff syndrome, which causes severe memory loss, disorientation, and confabulation. Treatment includes thiamine supplements, rehabilitation, and cognitive therapy to manage symptoms.
Latest on COVID-19
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
Physician Assistant (PA)
Create custom content
Raise the Line Podcast
Copyright © 2024 Elsevier, its licensors, and contributors. All rights are reserved, including those for text and data mining, AI training, and similar technologies.
Cookies are used by this site.
Terms and Conditions
USMLE® is a joint program of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) and the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME). COMLEX-USA® is a registered trademark of The National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners, Inc. NCLEX-RN® is a registered trademark of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, Inc. Test names and other trademarks are the property of the respective trademark holders. None of the trademark holders are endorsed by nor affiliated with Osmosis or this website.