Poisoning with 1-propanol and 2-propanol

Hum Exp Toxicol. 2007 Dec;26(12):975-8. doi: 10.1177/0960327107087794.


1-Propanol and 2-propanol are isomers of an alcohol with three carbons. They are colorless liquids with a sweet odor. 1-Propanol is metabolized by alcohol dehydrogenase to propionic acid and presents with metabolic acidosis and elevated anion gap, whereas 2-propanol is metabolized by alcohol dehydrogenase to acetone and presents with rapidly developing (within 3-4 h after exposure) ketosis and ketonuria but without metabolic acidosis. We report a patient who simultaneously ingested a lethal dose of 1-propanol and 2-propanol as a hand disinfectant in hospital. The patient lost consciousness and stopped breathing within half an hour after ingestion. He was intubated and artificially ventilated. Initial laboratory results showed mixed acidosis with elevated anion gap, but ketonuria appeared only 12 h after admission and 6 h following the regaining of consciousness. Therefore, laboratory results in simultaneous poisoning with two isomers of alcohol are not just a sum of laboratory results obtained in isolated poisoning with each isomer because they influence each other's metabolism: 1-propanol retards the metabolism of 2-propanol to acetone. In conclusion, 1-propanol and 2-propanol poisoning presents early with mixed acidosis and elevated anion gap and only later with ketonuria.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • 1-Propanol / pharmacokinetics
  • 1-Propanol / poisoning*
  • 2-Propanol / pharmacokinetics
  • 2-Propanol / poisoning*
  • Acid-Base Equilibrium
  • Acidosis, Respiratory / chemically induced*
  • Acidosis, Respiratory / therapy
  • Adult
  • Amylases / blood
  • Animals
  • Drug Synergism
  • Humans
  • Ketone Bodies / urine
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Solvents / pharmacokinetics
  • Solvents / poisoning*
  • Suicide, Attempted
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Ketone Bodies
  • Solvents
  • 1-Propanol
  • Amylases
  • 2-Propanol