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Alcohol Alcohol. 2003 Sep-Oct;38(5):431-6.

Investigation of alcohol metabolizing enzyme genes in Chinese alcoholics with avascular necrosis of hip joint, pancreatitis and cirrhosis of the liver.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine, Tri-Service General Hospital, National Defense Medical Center, No. 325 Section 2 Cheng-Kung Road, Neihu, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.



Alcoholism may cause a range of diseases including avascular necrosis of the hip joint (AVN), cirrhosis of the liver, pancreatitis and oesophageal carcinoma. Chinese alcoholic patients diagnosed with AVN have a higher incidence of cirrhosis than of acute pancreatitis or oesophageal cancer. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate genetic differences in polymorphisms of the alcohol-metabolizing enzymes ADH2, ADH3, ALDH2 and P4502E1 for subgroups of Chinese alcoholic patients, defined by diagnoses of AVN (n = 51), acute pancreatitis (n = 92) and liver cirrhosis (n = 159), and for 280 non-alcoholic patients.


Analysis revealed that ADH2*1 allele frequency was significantly lower for the alcoholic AVN than for the cirrhosis subgroup. However, no significant difference was found between the alcoholic AVN and pancreatitis subgroups. Furthermore, ALDH2*2 prevalence was not found to differ significantly between the alcoholic subgroups. When compared with our previously published data for alcoholic patients with oesophageal carcinoma, ADH2*1 carriage was significantly less frequent for the alcoholic AVN patients in the current study. Further, ALDH2*2 carriage was significantly less frequent for the alcoholic AVN subgroup than for the oesophageal carcinoma patients.


The allele frequencies for ADH2*1 and ALDH2*2 are different when comparing subpopulations of alcoholics defined by presence of specific alcohol-induced diseases, suggesting that genetic variation in alcohol-metabolizing enzyme genes accounts for, at least in part, the specific types of organ damage observed. We also found the combination of AVN and cirrhosis to be more prevalent than that of AVN and acute pancreatitis. In contrast, the ADH2 and ALDH2 allele frequencies for the AVN subgroup were more similar to those of the acute-pancreatitis than to the cirrhosis subgroup. These data indicate the possibility that other genetic variations may also influence the type of organ-specific complications in Chinese alcoholics.

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