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Biochem J. 1989 Jan 1;257(1):277-80.

Cleavage of folates during ethanol metabolism. Role of acetaldehyde/xanthine oxidase-generated superoxide.

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Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY.


Although folate deficiency and increased requirements for folate are observed in most alcoholics, the possibility that acetaldehyde generated from ethanol metabolism may increase folate catabolism has not been previously demonstrated. Folate cleavage was studied in vitro during the metabolism of acetaldehyde by xanthine oxidase, measured as the production of p-aminobenzoylglutamate from folate using h.p.l.c. Acetaldehyde/xanthine oxidase generated superoxide, which cleaved folates (5-methyltetrahydrofolate greater than folinic acid greater than folate) and was inhibited by superoxide dismutase. Cleavage was increased by addition of ferritin and inhibited by desferrioxamine (a tight chelator of iron), suggesting the importance of catalytic iron. Superoxide generated from the metabolism of ethanol to acetaldehyde in the presence of xanthine oxidase in vivo may contribute to the severity of folate deficiency in the alcoholic.

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