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Drug Metab Dispos. 2002 Jan;30(1):69-73.

Effects of aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 genetic polymorphisms on metabolism of structurally different aldehydes in human liver.

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  • 1Division of Health Effects Research, National Institute of Industrial Health, Nagao 6-21-1, Kawasaki 214-8585, Japan.


Genotype analysis of the aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH)-2 gene was performed using an improved simplified method, and effects of the genotype on the metabolism of a variety of aldehydes in different fractions of human liver cells were investigated. The effects of sex, aging, smoking, drinking alcohol, liver function, and various drugs on ALDH activity were also analyzed. Of the 39 subjects, eight were heterozygotes of the wild (ALDH2*1) and mutant (ALDH2*2) alleles, and the others were homozygotes of the wild allele. ALDH activity toward acetaldehyde in liver mitochondria from subjects with a mutant allele was less than 10% of that with two alleles of wild-type, and the activities toward formaldehyde, propionaldehyde, n-butyraldehyde, capronaldehyde, and heptaldehyde were also significantly lower in the ALDH2*1/*2 rather than ALDH2*1/*1 group. However, the metabolism of octylaldehyde, decylaldehyde, retinaldehyde, benzaldehyde, 3-hydroxybenzaldehyde, and 2,5-dihydroxybenzaldehyde was similar in the two genotypes. Changes in activity in the cytosolic fraction were similar to those in mitochondria. There was no significant difference in ALDH activity in microsomes between the two groups. Total activities of ALDH toward acetaldehyde and other short-chain aliphatic aldehydes in supernatant fractions of homogenized liver were affected in a manner similar to that in mitochondria. Our results suggest that the single nucleotide polymorphisms of the ALDH2 gene only alter the metabolism of aldehydes with a short aliphatic chain. Furthermore, sex, drinking alcohol, and smoking had little effect on ALDH activity, although the activity in elderly individuals tended to be lower albeit statistically insignificant.

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