Glucose-induced down regulation of thiamine transporters in the kidney proximal tubular epithelium produces thiamine insufficiency in diabetes

James R. Larkin, Fang Zhang, Lisa Godfrey, Guerman Molostvov, Daniel Zehnder, Naila Rabbani and Paul J. Thornalley (2012)

PloS ONE 7 12 e53175. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053175.


Increased renal clearance of thiamine (vitamin B1) occurs in experimental and clinical diabetes producing thiamine insufficiency mediated by impaired tubular re-uptake and linked to the development of diabetic nephropathy. We studied the mechanism of impaired renal re-uptake of thiamine in diabetes. Expression of thiamine transporter proteins THTR-1 and THTR-2 in normal human kidney sections examined by immunohistochemistry showed intense polarised staining of the apical, luminal membranes in proximal tubules for THTR-1 and THTR-2 of the cortex and uniform, diffuse staining throughout cells of the collecting duct for THTR-1 and THTR-2 of the medulla. Human primary proximal tubule epithelial cells were incubated with low and high glucose concentration, 5 and 26 mmol/l, respectively. In high glucose concentration there was decreased expression of THTR-1 and THTR-2 (transporter mRNA: −76% and −53% respectively, p<0.001; transporter protein −77% and −83% respectively, p<0.05), concomitant with decreased expression of transcription factor specificity protein-1. High glucose concentration also produced a 37% decrease in apical to basolateral transport of thiamine transport across cell monolayers. Intensification of glycemic control corrected increased fractional excretion of thiamine in experimental diabetes. We conclude that glucose-induced decreased expression of thiamine transporters in the tubular epithelium may mediate renal mishandling of thiamine in diabetes. This is a novel mechanism of thiamine insufficiency linked to diabetic nephropathy.

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