Dietary fructose augments ethanol-induced liver pathology

Paul G. Thomes, Jennifer H. Benbow, Elizabeth Brandon-Warner, Kyle J. Thompson, Carl Jacobs, Terrence M. Donohue, Laura W. Schrum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Certain dietary components when combined with alcohol exacerbate alcohol-induced liver injury (ALI). Here, we tested whether fructose, a major ingredient of the western diet, enhances the severity of ALI. We fed mice ethanol for 8 weeks in the following Lieber-DeCarli diets: (a) Regular (contains olive oil); (b) corn oil (contains corn oil); (c) fructose (contains fructose and olive oil) and (d) corn + fructose (contains fructose and corn oil). We compared indices of metabolic function and liver pathology among the different groups. Mice fed fructose-free and fructose-containing ethanol diets exhibited similar levels of blood alcohol, blood glucose and signs of disrupted hepatic insulin signaling. However, only mice given fructose–ethanol diets showed lower insulin levels than their respective controls. Compared with their respective pair-fed controls, all ethanol-fed mice exhibited elevated levels of serum ALT; the inflammatory cytokines TNF-α, MCP-1 and MIP-2; hepatic lipid peroxides and triglycerides. All the latter parameters were significantly higher in mice given fructose-ethanol diets than those fed fructose-free ethanol diets. Mice given fructose-free or fructose-containing ethanol diets each had higher levels of hepatic lipogenic enzymes than controls. However, the level of the lipogenic enzyme fatty acid synthase (FAS) was significantly higher in livers of mice given fructose control and fructose–ethanol diets than in all other groups. Our findings indicate that dietary fructose exacerbates ethanol-induced steatosis, oxidant stress, inflammation and liver injury, irrespective of the dietary fat source, to suggest that inclusion of fructose in or along with alcoholic beverages increases the risk of more severe ALI in heavy drinkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-150
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Nutritional Biochemistry
StatePublished - May 1 2017


  • Alcohol
  • Fatty liver
  • Fructose
  • Inflammation
  • Insulin
  • Oxidant stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Clinical Biochemistry


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