S. S. Korsakoff was a 19th century Russian physician who observed amnesic patients with widespread brain damage from alcoholism.
Thiamine deficiency in alcoholic results from a combination of factors, including inadequate dietary intake, reduced gastrointestinal absorption, decreased hepatic storage and impaired use do thiamine.
Not all alcoholics develop Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome which suggest that genetic factors may be involved. The selective vulnerability to thiamine deficiency in different populations appears to be related to genetic variations of TK*(transketolase).
*TK is a key pentose phosphate shunt enzyme that plays an important role in the production of reducing equivalents and pentose sugars.