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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2006 Jul;30(7):1126-31.

Increased plasma fatty acid ethyl ester levels following inhibition of oxidative metabolism of ethanol by 4-methylpyrazole treatment in human subjects.

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Department of Pathology, Division of Laboratory Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.



Recent experimental evidence suggests that fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE), nonoxidative metabolites of ethanol, mediate ethanol-induced organ damage. A direct association between pancreas-specific toxicity and increased levels of FAEE following inhibition of the oxidative metabolism of ethanol by 4-methylpyrazole (4-MP) has previously been shown in studies with rats.


We obtained plasma samples from 32 healthy human volunteers who drank ethanol following 4-MP or placebo ingestion to determine whether in vivo inhibition of oxidative metabolism of ethanol causes a shift to nonoxidative metabolism of ethanol and the subsequent production of increased levels of FAEE. Plasma FAEE were isolated by solid-phase extraction and quantified by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS).


Plasma FAEE levels in subjects receiving 4-MP treatment before ethanol consumption were elevated compared with plasma FAEE concentrations taken from control subjects who received a placebo before ethanol ingestion. Increased FAEE levels in the 4-MP treatment group occurred after peak blood ethanol, and peak FAEE levels were achieved. There was a correlation between the blood ethanol and the plasma FAEE levels, and the correlation persisted in the presence or absence of 4-MP. The peak FAEE values were greater in men than in women, with or without 4-MP treatment.


Our results indicate that the in vivo inhibition of the oxidative metabolism of ethanol using 4-MP results in an increased circulating concentration of FAEE, products of the nonoxidative metabolism of ethanol.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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