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Ethanol Alters Energy Metabolism in the Liver

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Ethanol Alters Energy Metabolism in the Liver
III. Synthesizing the Molecules of Life
30. The Integration of Metabolism
30.4. Fuel Choice During Exercise Is Determined by Intensity and Duration of Activity
Figure 30.19. Dependence of the Velocity of Running on the Duration of the Race. The values shown are world track
records .
III. Synthesizing the Molecules of Life
30. The Integration of Metabolism
30.5. Ethanol Alters Energy Metabolism in the Liver
Ethanol has been a part of the human diet for centuries. However, its consumption in excess can result in a number
of health problems, most notably liver damage. What is the biochemical basis of these health problems?
Ethanol cannot be excreted and must be metabolized, primarily by the liver. This metabolism occurs by two pathways.
The first pathway comprises two steps. The first step, catalyzed by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, takes place in the
cytoplasm:
The second step, catalyzed by aldehyde dehydrogenase, takes place in mitochondria:
Note that ethanol consumption leads to an accumulation of NADH. This high concentration of NADH inhibits
gluconeogenesis by preventing the oxidation of lactate to pyruvate. In fact, the high concentration of NADH will cause
the reverse reaction to predominate, and lactate will accumulate. The consequences may be hypoglycemia and lactic
acidosis.
The NADH glut also inhibits fatty acid oxidation. The metabolic purpose of fatty acid oxidation is to generate NADH for
ATP generation by oxidative phosphorylation, but an alcohol consumer's NADH needs are met by ethanol metabolism.
In fact, the excess NADH signals that conditions are right for fatty acid synthesis. Hence, triacylglycerols accumulate in
the liver, leading to a condition known as "fatty liver."
The second pathway for ethanol metabolism is called the ethanolinducible microsomal ethanol-oxidizing system
(MEOS). This cytochrome P450-dependent pathway (Section 26.4.2) generates acetaldehyde and subsequently acetate
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