Dangerous byproducts of alcohol breakdown - Focus on adducts

Dean J. Tuma, Carol A. Casey

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

156 Scopus citations


Alcohol breakdown in the liver results in the generation of the reactive molecule acetaldehyde and, as a byproduct, highly reactive oxygen-containing molecules known as oxygen radicals. Both acetaldehyde and oxygen radicals can interact with proteins and other complex molecules in the cell, forming hybrid compounds called adducts. Other adducts are formed with aldehyde molecules, which are produced through the interaction of oxygen radicals with lipids in the cells. Adduct formation impedes the function of the original proteins participating in the reaction. Moreover, the adducts may induce harmful immune responses. Both of these effects may account for some of the damage observed in alcoholic liver disease. Adduct formation has been shown to occur in the livers of humans and animals consuming alcohol and to start and predominate in those liver regions that show the first signs of liver damage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)285-290
Number of pages6
JournalAlcohol Research and Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2003


  • Acetaldehyde
  • Adduct
  • Alcoholic liver disorder
  • Aldehydes
  • Biochemical mechanism
  • Ethanol metabolism
  • Immune system
  • Lipids
  • Oxygen radicals
  • Peroxidation
  • Proteins
  • Toxic drug effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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