What causes the symptom complex of Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome (WKS)?

Updated: May 16, 2018
  • Author: Glen L Xiong, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Answer

A deficiency of thiamine (vitamin B-1) is responsible for the symptom complex manifested in Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, and any condition resulting in a poor nutritional state places patients at risk. The structural lesions associated with Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome are more likely to manifest in patients with malnutrition. [1] However, it is crucial to recognize that Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome also appears in patients without exposure to alcohol. The occurrence of WKS in patients without alcohol use disorders is well described in the literature and cited in the section below.{ref53]


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