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Free Radic Biol Med. 2001 Dec 15;31(12):1533-8.

Distribution of ethanol-induced protein adducts in vivo: relationship to tissue injury.

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EP Central Hospital Laboratory, Seinäjoki, Finland.


Generation of oxygen free radicals and reactive aldehydes as a result of excessive ethanol consumption has been well established. Recent studies in human alcoholics and in experimental animal models have indicated that acetaldehyde, the first metabolite of ethanol, and the aldehydic products of lipid peroxidation can bind to proteins in tissues forming stable adducts. The demonstration of such adducts in zone 3 hepatocytes in alcoholics with an early phase of histological liver damage indicates that adduct formation may have an important role in the sequence of events leading to alcoholic liver disease. There may be interference with cellular functions, stimulation of fibrogenesis, and immunological responses. Autoantibodies towards distinct types of adducts have been shown to be associated with the severity of liver disease in alcoholic patients. High fat diet and/or iron supplementation combined with ethanol may increase the amount of aldehyde-derived epitopes and promote fibrogenesis in the liver. Recently, ethanol-derived protein modifications have also been found from other tissues exposed to ethanol and acetaldehyde, including rat brain after lifelong ethanol administration, pancreas, and rat muscle. Elevated adduct levels also occur in erythrocytes of alcoholics, which may be related to ethanol-induced morphological aberrations in hematopoiesis.

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