Chronic ethanol consumption lessens the gain of body weight, liver triglycerides, and diabetes in obese ob/ob mice

J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2009 Oct;331(1):23-34. doi: 10.1124/jpet.109.155168. Epub 2009 Jul 8.


Clinical studies suggest that moderate alcohol consumption can have beneficial effects, in particular regarding cardiovascular events, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. In this study, lean and obese diabetic ob/ob mice were submitted or not to chronic ethanol intake via the drinking water for 6 months, which was associated with moderate levels of plasma ethanol. Plasma levels of alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase were not increased by alcohol intake. Ethanol consumption progressively reduced the gain of body weight in ob/ob mice, but not in lean mice, and this was observed despite higher calorie intake. Increased plasma free fatty acids and glycerol in ethanol-treated ob/ob mice suggested peripheral lipolysis. Glycemia and insulinemia were significantly reduced, whereas adiponectinemia was increased in ethanol-treated ob/ob mice. Liver weight and triglycerides were significantly decreased in ethanol-treated ob/ob mice, and this was associated with less microvesicular steatosis. Hepatic levels of AMP-activated protein kinase and the phosphorylated form of acetyl-CoA carboxylase were higher in ethanol-treated ob/ob mice, suggesting better fatty acid oxidation. However, hepatic mRNA expression of several lipogenic genes was not reduced by ethanol consumption. Finally, mild oxidative stress was noticed in the liver of ethanol-treated mice, regardless of their genotype. Hence, our data are in keeping with clinical studies suggesting that moderate ethanol intake can have beneficial effects on type 2 diabetes and insulin sensitivity, at least in part through increased levels of plasma adiponectin. However, further studies are needed to determine whether long-term drinking of light-to-moderate amounts of ethanol is safe for the liver.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Drinking / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Experimental / prevention & control
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Obese
  • Triglycerides / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Triglycerides / metabolism*
  • Weight Gain / drug effects
  • Weight Gain / physiology*


  • Triglycerides
  • Ethanol