Metabolism and Toxicity of Acetaldehyde

  • M. Salaspuro
  • K. Lindros


Acetaldehyde is the first oxidation product of ethanol, and under normal conditions it is oxidized further so rapidly that significant acetaldehyde concentrations can only be found in the liver. Aldehyde oxidase, xanthine oxidases, and aldehyde dehydrogenases are all capable of catalyzing aldehyde oxidation. The first two enzymes, however, have a broad substrate specificity and a low affinity for acetaldehyde (K m > 1 mM), and consequently their involvement in the metabolism of acetaldehyde is insignificant (Lundquist 1970; Lindros 1978). The main enzyme oxidizing acetaldehyde is aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which catalyzes the oxidation of acetaldehyde in the presence of nicotinamide-adenine dinucleotide (NAD) as follows:
$$ C{H_3}CHO + NA{D^ + }\xrightarrow[{{H_2}O}]{{ALDH}}C{H_3}CO{O^ - } + NADH + {H^ + }. $$
Most of the acetaldehyde formed from ethanol is subsequently oxidized to acetate in liver.


Aldehyde Dehydrogenase Ethanol Oxidation Acetaldehyde Concentration ALDH Activity Chronic Alcohol Consumption 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Salaspuro
    • 1
    • 2
  • K. Lindros
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Research Unit of Alcohol DiseasesUniversity Central Hospital of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Research Laboratories of the State Alcohol CompanyHelsinkiFinland

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