A particular type of vitamin B1 supplementation can offer an effective treatment against uveitis, a common cause of blindness, says a research team led by an Indian-origin scientist.
Kota V. Ramana, from University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, and colleagues have found that supplementation with benfotiamene, a fat-soluble form of vitamin B1 can significantly help cure uveitis, one of the leading causes of blindness.
Uveitis is an inflammation of the tissue located just below the outer surface of the eyeball.
During the study, the researchers first injected laboratory rats with bacterial toxins that ordinarily produce a reaction mimicking uveitis.
When those rats are fed benfotiamene, they fail to develop any signs of the inflammatory disorder.
"Benfotiamene strongly suppresses this eye-damaging condition and the biochemical markers we associate with it," said Ramana, senior author of the study.
"We're optimistic that this simple supplementation with vitamin B1 has great potential as a new therapy for this widespread eye disease," he added.
The results revealed that benfotiamene works by suppressing the activation of a crucial signalling molecule called NF-kappa B, which is normally triggered by the stress caused by infection.
The shutting down NF-kappa B is what prevents the runaway production of inflammatory proteins that generates uveitis.
Ramana said that benfotiamene's low cost, rapid absorption by the body and lack of negative side effects makes it an ideal candidate for uveitis prevention.
"Already, clinical trials have shown that benfotiamene is absorbed better than thiamine [the most common form of vitamin B1] and significantly improved diabetic polyneuropathy in patients, and it's already taken as a supplement for diabetic complications," Ramana added.
The study appears in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science.