Send to

Choose Destination
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2003 Sep;27(9):1395-401.

Mean corpuscular volume and the aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 genotype in male Japanese workers.

Author information

Mitsukoshi Health and Welfare Foundation, Tokyo, Japan.



Increased mean corpuscular volume (MCV) is common in alcohol abusers and alcoholics. MCV is higher in Japanese heavy drinkers with inactive aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 (ALDH2) encoded by ALDH2*1/2*2 than among those with active ALDH2 encoded by ALDH2*1/2*1. Inactive ALDH2 dramatically increases blood acetaldehyde levels after alcohol intake. Because moderate and heavy drinkers with ALDH2*1/2*2 have very high risks for esophageal cancer, MCV might serve as an indicator of these high-risk drinkers.


In this investigation of the association of red cell values with the ALDH2 genotype and possible confounding factors, the drinking, smoking, and dietary habits reported on a structured questionnaire by 163 Japanese working men were subjected to multivariate analyses.


Aging, lower body mass index (BMI), more alcohol consumption, and more smoking were positively associated with increased MCV. Among moderate to heavy drinkers (>or=9 units/week; 1 unit = 22 g of ethanol), both MCV and mean corpuscular hemoglobin were higher and the red cell count was lower in those with ADLH2*1/2*2 than in those with ALDH2*1/2*1. Multiple linear regression analysis after adjustment for age, BMI, and smoking revealed that a positive relationship between the amount of drinking and MCV but inverse relationships for drinking and red cell count, as well as hemoglobin and hematocrit values, were significantly stronger for men with ALDH2*1/2*2 than for those with ALDH2*1/2*1, demonstrating a gene-environment interaction. Drinking accounted for 19.9% of interindividual MCV variance among men with ALDH2*1/*2*2 but for only 1.3% of variance among those with ALDH2*1/2*1. Age, BMI, drinking, and smoking accounted for 52.1 and 34.7% of the variation among those with ALDH2*1/2*2 and ALDH2*1/2*1, respectively. Macrocytosis (MCV >or=100.0 fl) was observed in 18 subjects (11.0%), and use of macrocytosis as a biomarker of moderate to heavy drinkers with ALDH2*1/2*2 had a sensitivity of 54.5% (6 of 11) and a specificity of 92.1% (140 of 152).


Alcohol-related red cell value changes associated with inactive ALDH2 in Japanese men suggest the importance of acetaldehyde's role in increasing MCV and the potential for using MCV as a marker for high-risk drinkers for esophageal cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center