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Racial differences in alcohol sensitivity: A new hypothesis


A hypothesis regarding alcohol sensitivity in Japanese due to a polymorphism of liver aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) is presented. ALDH was found to show two major bands, a faster migrating isozyme with a low Km for acetaldehyde and a slower migrating isozyme with a high Km for acetaldehyde. Out of 40 livers of Japanese, 21 had only the slower migrating isozyme. No such variation was detected in 68 autopsy livers of Germans. Our data suggest that the initial alcohol sensitivity, quite common in individuals of Mongoloid origin, might be due to a delayed oxidation of acetaldehyde rather than its higher than normal production by atypical alcohol dehydrogenase.

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Correspondence to H. W. Goedde.

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Goedde, H.W., Harada, S. & Agarwal, D.P. Racial differences in alcohol sensitivity: A new hypothesis. Hum Genet 51, 331–334 (1979).

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  • Alcohol
  • Acetaldehyde
  • Internal Medicine
  • Aldehyde
  • Metabolic Disease