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Alcohol. 1991 Nov-Dec;8(6):473-9.

Influence of copper status on the response to acute ethanol exposure in rats.

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Department of Nutrition, University of California, Davis 95615.


An acute dose of ethanol was used to investigate the biochemical response of tissues with a compromised antioxidant defense system to a surge of oxygen radical production. The copper (Cu)-deficient rat served as the animal model for this study based on its compromised antioxidant defense system. Rats were fed control (10 micrograms Cu/g) or Cu-deficient (0.2 microgram Cu/g) diet for 14 days. In order to minimize secondary effects associated with chronic Cu deficiency, the chelator triethylenetetramine was added to the Cu-deficient diet to shorten the time required for the induction of Cu deficiency. On day 14, rats were gavaged with ethanol (4.5 g/kg b.wt.) or saline and killed 9 hours postgavage. Rats fed the Cu-deficient diets had lower liver superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activities than controls. Ethanol treatment had no effect on liver CuZnSOD or Gpx activity, while MnSOD activity was higher than saline control levels following EtOH treatment. Despite low GPx and SOD activity, Cu-deficient rats did not exhibit higher hepatic thiobarbituric acid reacting substances (TBARS) than controls; in fact, hepatic microsomal TBARS were lower in saline-treated Cu-deficient rats relative to Cu-sufficient rats. Ethanol treatment resulted in higher whole homogenate and mitochondrial TBARS than in saline-gavaged rats. Copper status did not influence hepatic TBARS production in response to an acute EtOH load. These data suggest that compensatory mechanisms contribute to the protection of the liver from excessive free radical production in this model of Cu deficiency.

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