A new study, by researchers at the University of Warwick has shown that high doses of thiamine, vitamin B1, can reverse the onset of early diabetic kidney disease.
The study was led by Dr Naila Rabbani and Professor Paul J Thornalley at Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Punjab and Sheik Zaid Hospital, Lahore, Pakistan.
Kidney disease, or diabetic nephropathy, develops progressively in patients with type 2 diabetes. Early development of kidney disease is assessed by a high excretion rate of the protein albumin from the body in the urine, known as microalbuminuria.
In the study, the researchers discovered that taking high oral doses of thiamine can dramatically decrease the excretion of albumin and reverse early stage kidney disease in type 2 diabetes patients.
The team showed 300 mg of thiamine taken orally each day for three months reduced the rate of albumin excretion in type 2 diabetes patients.
The albumin excretion rate was decreased by 41 percent from the value at the start of the study. The results also showed 35 percent of patients with microalbuminuria saw a return to normal urinary albumin excretion after being treated with thiamine.
Forty patients with type 2 diabetes aged between 35 and 65 years old took part in the trial. They were randomly assigned a placebo or 3 x 100mg tablets of thiamine a day for three months.
The research team has already conclusively proven that type 2 diabetes patients have a thiamine deficiency.
"This study once again highlights the importance of Vitamin B1 and we need to increase awareness," Rabbani said.
The study is published online in the journal Diabetologia.