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Gastroenterology. 1995 Jan;108(1):201-7.

Detection of antibodies against proteins modified by hydroxyethyl free radicals in patients with alcoholic cirrhosis.

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  • 1Department of Medical Sciences, Second Faculty of Medicine, University of Torino, Novara, Italy.



We have previously shown that hydroxyethyl free radicals produced during cytochrome P4502E1-mediated oxidation of ethanol covalently bind to microsomal proteins. The present study examined whether alkylation of proteins by hydroxyethyl radicals induces an immunologic response in alcoholic patients.


A microplate enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was developed using as antigen human serum albumin or bovine fibrinogen reacted with chemically produced hydroxyethyl radicals.


This assay showed that the sera of alcoholic cirrhotics contained both immunoglobulin (Ig) Gs and IgAs that recognized proteins modified by hydroxyethyl radicals, whereas practically no reaction was observed in the sera of healthy controls or cirrhotics without evidence of alcohol abuse. The reactivity of the sera from alcoholic patients was not influenced by the protein to which hydroxyethyl radicals were bound. The sera of alcoholic cirrhotics also contained antibodies directed against acetaldehyde-modified albumin. However, the reaction of alcoholic sera with hydroxyethyl radical epitopes was not inhibited by increasing concentrations of acetaldehyde-modified albumin produced under either reducing or nonreducing conditions.


The results indicate that a new group of antigens that do not cross-react with antibodies against acetaldehyde-derived epitopes is formed by the alkylation of protein by hydroxyethyl radicals and is involved in the development of immunologic reactions in alcoholic patients.

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