What is the role of biomarkers in the workup of Wernicke encephalopathy (WE)?

Updated: Nov 20, 2018
  • Author: Philip N Salen, MD; Chief Editor: Andrew K Chang, MD, MS  more...
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Biomarkers, including an assay for thiamine, are not typically available for timely diagnostic purposes. In addition, no study has clearly described the sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of thiamine levels in relation to active disease. [15] However, the thiamine levels can help the clinician assuming care of the patient in ambiguous cases, and obtaining a thiamine level can be considered for diagnostic dilemmas. [5]

Complete discrimination of WE patients and controls has been reported for thiamine monophosphate, a dephosphorylation product of the coenzyme thiamine pyrophosphate. However, evidence is sparse, and thiamine assays have limited availability and usually do not allow for an immediate diagnosis. [7]

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