Comparable performance characteristics of plasma thiamine and erythrocyte thiamine diphosphate in response to thiamine fortification in rural Cambodian women

Adrian McCann, Øivind Midttun, Kyly C. Whitfield, Hou Kroeun, Mam Borath, Prak Sophonneary, Per Magne Ueland, Timothy J. Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
18 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Traditionally, vitamin B1 status is assessed by a functional test measuring erythrocyte transketolase (ETK) activity or direct measurement of erythrocyte thiamine diphosphate (eThDP) concentration. However, such analyses are logistically challenging, and do not allow assessment of vitamin B1 status in plasma/serum samples stored in biobanks. Using a multiplex assay, we evaluated plasma concentrations of thiamine and thiamine monophosphate (TMP), as alternative, convenient measures of vitamin B1 status. Methods: We investigated the relationships between the established biomarker eThDP and plasma concentrations of thiamine and TMP, and compared the response of these thiamine forms to thiamine fortification using samples from 196 healthy Cambodian women (aged 18–45 years.). eThDP was measured by high performance liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection (HPLC-FLD) and plasma thiamine and TMP by high performance liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS). Results: Plasma thiamine and TMP correlated significantly with eThDP at baseline and study-end (p < 0.05). Among the fortification groups, the strongest response was observed for plasma thiamine (increased by 266%), while increases in plasma TMP (60%) and eThDP (53%) were comparable. Conclusions: Plasma thiamine and TMP correlated positively with eThDP, and all thiamine forms responded significantly to thiamine intervention. Measuring plasma concentrations of thiamine forms is advantageous due to convenient sample handling and capacity to develop low volume, high-throughput, multiplex assays.

Original languageEnglish
Article number676
Number of pages12
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Work supported by Grand Challenges Canada Stars in Global Health (S6 0490-01-10). K.C.W. is supported by the International Development Research Centre Doctoral Research Award, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Doctoral Award—Frederick Banting and Charles Best Canada Graduate Scholarship (327933). Fish sauce production: Natural Factors (Coquitlam, BC, Canada) donated the thiamine hydrochloride, and Leang Lang Enterprises produced the thiamine-fortified fish sauce. The work undertaken by the authors was in part supported by the Foundation to Support Research in Functional Vitamin B12 Deficiency, Bergen, Norway.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Direct biomarkers
  • Erythrocyte thiamine diphosphate
  • Plasma
  • Thiamine (vitamin B)
  • Thiamine monophospahte
  • Cambodian women


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