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Thromb Haemost. 2010 Oct;104(4):724-33. doi: 10.1160/TH10-01-0048. Epub 2010 Jul 20.

The effect of ethanol and its metabolism on fibrinolysis.

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  • 1TReNDS Centre of Excellence - Nutrition, North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, Private Bag X6001, Potchefstroom, 2520 South Africa. marlien.pieters@nwu.ac.za


The role of ethanol metabolism in possible haemostatic cardioprotective effects has not yet been determined. To this end, we investigated the effect of a moderate dose of ethanol (35 g) and its metabolism, on haemostatic variables over 14 hours (h). Eighteen Caucasian males participated in a placebo-controlled, randomised, cross-over study. Blood was collected prior to alcohol consumption, and at 10 time points for 14 h. Blood ethanol peaked at 1 h and was cleared after 8 h following ethanol consumption, significantly increasing plasma acetate (p=0.0028). Ethanol did not influence the coagulation factors significantly. PAI-1act increased (p<0.0001) and tPAact (p=0.047) decreased following alcohol consumption, reaching maximum (0.69 to 22.2 IU/ml) and minimum (0.88 to 0.33 IU/ml) levels at 5 h, respectively. Significantly increased plasma clot lysis times (46.8 to 67.6 minutes) and reduced global fibrinolytic capacity of whole blood, measured as D-dimer production during incubation of blood clots (2.26 to 0.29 μg/ml), were found at 5 h. Except for PAI-1act (borderline significance; p=0.05), there was no significant difference in the fibrinolytic markers between the two groups the following morning. Moderate ethanol consumption resulted in a significant temporary fibrinolysis inhibition. Any protective effects of moderate ethanol consumption on cardiovascular disease do not appear to be due to improvement in fibrinolytic potential within the first 14 h following consumption. The use of global fibrinolytic assays is recommended for determining the true effect of ethanol on fibrinolysis.

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