Ethanol Metabolism


Ethanol, also known as alcohol, is a widely consumed substance that can have various effects on the body. One of the main organs that is involved in ethanol metabolism is the liver, where more than 80% of the absorbed ethanol is broken down into less harmful substances. The liver contains high concentrations of enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), which catalyze the oxidation of ethanol to acetaldehyde and then to acetate. These reactions also require a coenzyme called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), which is reduced to NADH in the process.

Another organ that plays a role in ethanol metabolism is the kidney, which is responsible for filtering the blood and maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance. Ethanol and its metabolites can pass through the kidneys and be excreted in the urine. The kidney also contains some ADH and ALDH enzymes, but at lower levels than the liver. Ethanol can affect the kidney`s function by causing dehydration, altering hormone levels, impairing sodium and fluid handling, and increasing blood pressure. Chronic ethanol consumption can lead to kidney damage and dysfunction, especially in combination with liver disease.

Therefore, ethanol metabolism mainly occurs in the cells of the kidney and liver, where specific enzymes and coenzymes are involved in converting ethanol to less toxic substances. However, ethanol can also have negative effects on these organs, as well as other parts of the body.