Thiamine and Renal Failure in Septic Shock Patients

Every possible option to decreased morbidity, mortality, and costs are worth looking at in my book. The study that I am reviewing at this moment was published in 2017. I am ashamed that I had not run into it until today (10/19/19). It’s challenging to stay up to date in everything. I digress. It is a pilot study looking at IV thiamine and its effect on renal failure in patients with septic shock.

Some would quickly bash this study for it being small (n=70) and a post-hoc secondary analysis of a pilot study. I am not going to do that. Why not? Well first of all, I do not participate in research myself. Just reading and enjoying these studies. Also, thiamine has no side effects described in the literature. Third, it is an inexpensive medication. Fourth, if it does turn out to decrease the incidence of acute kidney injury and the need for renal replacement therapy, aren’t you going to feel guilty for not adopting these strategies for your patients? I hate resorting to that but my responsibility is for patients. What happens if this data is wrong? Nothing. What happens if this data is right and no one does anything for several years? Many patients may suffer.  

This article is completely free and I encourage you to download it and read it for yourself. Amongst the points illustrated by the authors, they mention that it’s not only perfusion that injures the kidneys during sepsis. There are other factors in the article. The way that it is postulated that thiamine works for these patients is by assisting in the mitochondrial dysfunction.

How common is thiamine deficiency in the critically ill?

Data that I have found not listed in this article shows that thiamine deficiency could have an incidence between 20-70% of critically ill patients.   

What did the authors find regarding renal failure and thiamine deficiency?

What they found was 21% of the patients in the placebo arm of the trial went on to need dialysis. Just one patient, or 3% in the thiamine group went on to require this. The authors note that acidosis was the primary indication for dialysis in 66% of the patients who required it. I personally would like to dig deeper into these numbers as there is some data that thiamine administration helps decrease lactic acidosis.    This data should make you wonder if the strategy that many clinicians take of providing more IV fluids to patients whose renal function deteriorates is the correct strategy. Are we going to look in the mirror in a decade and want to punch our past selves in the face?     

– EJ

Thiamine could also help with lactic acidosis. Click here to find out more.

Moskowitz A, Andersen LW, Cocchi MN, Karlsson M, Patel PV, Donnino MW. Thiamine as a Renal Protective Agent in Septic Shock. A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-controlled Trial. Ann Am Thorac Soc. 2017 May;14(5):737-741. doi: 10.1513/AnnalsATS.201608-656BC. PMID: 28207287; PMCID: PMC5427738.
Link to Abstract
Link to Full Article

ADDENDUM: The prospective RCT is going to be complete in July 2022. Here is the link to’s study details here: LINK

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