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Wiad Lek. 2003;56(1-2):61-70.

[Alcoholic liver disease].

[Article in Polish]

Author information

  • 1Katedry i Kliniki Gastroenterologii Slaskiej Akademii Medycznej w Katowicach.


Ethanol toxicity on liver is a function of duration of alcoholism, amount of daily intake of alcohol and patient's nutrition. The threshold of alcohol toxicity on the liver is about 40 g of ethanol daily in men and 20-30 g in women, however liver cirrhosis develops in no more than 8-20% of patients exceeding this values. Ethanol is oxidized in the liver to acetaldehyde--a compound considerably more toxic than ethanol itself. Despite small amount of alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) found in gastric mucosa, the metabolism of ethanol in this site may have an important hepatoprotective effect. The oxidation of ethanol is associated with a change of hepatocyte redox homeostasis, which leads to a number of metabolic disorders such as lactic acidosis, hyperlipidaemia and hyperuricaemia. Chronic ethanol consumption does not influence ADH activity, but has a profound stimulatory effect on microsomal enzymes, in particular cytochrome CYP2E1. This fact is responsible for development in alcoholic liver associated with rise of oxygen consumption, excessive production of free radicals and increased metabolism of ethanol, vitamin A and testosterone. Ethanol and acetaldehyde have a deleterious effect, both the direct and indirect, on hepatocytes e.g., generating radical oxygen species and damaging intestinal mucosal barrier. Cellular oxidative stress that is caused by both an excess of free radicals and the antioxidatives' deficiency (glutathion, vitamin E, phosphatidylcholine), may be the principal factor responsible for progression of alcoholic liver disease. Among other factors accelerating alcohol-related liver lesion there are certain drugs, high fat diet, infection with HCV and genetic factors (female sex, enzymatic polymorphic forms of ADH and ALDH, hemochromatosis). Great importance in pathogenesis of necrotic and inflammatory hepatic events is being attributed to portal endotoxaemia and cytokines induced within the liver, in particular TNF-alpha and interleukin 8. These cytokines play a key role in development of alcoholic hepatitis, which clinical severity ranges from subclinical to fatal forms. Apart from abstinence, the treatment of alcohol liver disease is based on hyperalimentation, since alcoholism is generally associated with protein malnutrition. In severe forms of alcohol hepatitis corticosteroids are recommended.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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