Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome Underlying Cause

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is caused by a lack of vitamin B1, called thiamine. Thiamine is present in many foods. Alcohol prevents the intestine from absorbing thiamine from food in the intestine. Without thiamine, cells in the brain, spinal cord, and nerves malfunction. Prolonged lack of thiamine results in damage to the brain cells.

Causes of Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome include:

Continue to Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome Types

Last Updated: Sep 2, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome References
  1. Day E, Bentham P, Callaghan R, Kuruvilla T, George S. Thiamine for Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome in people at risk from alcohol abuse. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2004;(1):CD004033. [14974055]
  2. Jauhar P, Montaldi D. Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome and the use of brain imaging. Alcohol Alcohol Suppl. 2000 May-Jun;35(1):21-3. [11304072]
  3. Thomson AD. Mechanisms of vitamin deficiency in chronic alcohol misusers and the development of the Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome. Alcohol Alcohol Suppl. 2000 May-Jun;35(1):2-7. [11304071]
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