Original Paper

Metabolic Brain Disease

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 145-152

Pyrithiamine-induced thiamine deficiency alters proliferation and neurogenesis in both neurogenic and vulnerable areas of the rat brain

  • Alan S. HazellAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, University of MontrealNeuroRescue Laboratory, Hôpital Saint-Luc (CHUM) Email author 
  • , Dongmei WangAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, University of Montreal
  • , Raluca OaneaAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, University of Montreal
  • , Simon SunAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, University of Montreal
  • , Meghmik AghourianAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, University of Montreal
  • , Jee Jung YongAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, University of Montreal

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Thiamine deficiency (TD) leads to Wernicke’s encephalopathy (WE), in which focal histological lesions occur in periventricular areas of the brain. Recently, impaired neurogenesis has been reported in the hippocampus during the dietary form of TD, and in pyrithiamine-induced TD (PTD), a well-characterized model of WE. To further characterize the consequences of PTD on neural stem/progenitor cell (NSPC) activity, we have examined the effect of this treatment in the rat on both the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the rostral lateral ventricle and subgranular layer (SGL) of the hippocampus, and in the thalamus and inferior colliculus, two vulnerable brain regions in this disorder. In both the SVZ and SGL, PTD led to a decrease in the numbers of bromodeoxyuridine-stained cells, indicating that proliferation of NSPCs destined for neurogenesis in these areas was reduced. Doublecortin (DCX) immunostaining in the SGL was decreased, indicating a reduction in neuroblast formation, consistent with impaired NSPC activity. DCX labeling was not apparent in focal areas of vulnerability. In the thalamus, proliferation of cells was absent while in the inferior colliculus, numerous actively dividing cells were apparent, indicative of a differential response between these two brain regions. Exposure of cultured neurospheres to PTD resulted in decreased proliferation of NSPCs, consistent with our in vivo findings. Together, these results indicate that PTD considerably affects cell proliferation and neurogenesis activity in both neurogenic areas and parts of the brain known to display structural and functional vulnerability, confirming and extending recent findings on the effects of TD on neurogenesis. Future use of NSPCs in vitro may allow a closer and more detailed examination of the mechanism(s) underlying inhibition of these cells during TD.


Thiamine deficiency Thalamus Neural stem cell Vitamin B1 Inferior colliculus In vitro Progenitor cell