Chronic alcohol binging injures the liver and other organs by reducing NAD⁺ levels required for sirtuin's deacetylase activity

Exp Mol Pathol. 2016 Apr;100(2):303-6. doi: 10.1016/j.yexmp.2016.02.004. Epub 2016 Feb 16.


NAD(+) levels are markedly reduced when blood alcohol levels are high during binge drinking. This causes liver injury to occur because the enzymes that require NAD(+) as a cofactor such as the sirtuin de-acetylases cannot de-acetylate acetylated proteins such as acetylated histones. This prevents the epigenetic changes that regulate metabolic processes and which prevent organ injury such as fatty liver in response to alcohol abuse. Hyper acetylation of numerous regulatory proteins develops. Systemic multi-organ injury occurs when NAD(+) is reduced. For instance the Circadian clock is altered if NAD(+) is not available. Cell cycle arrest occurs due to up regulation of cell cycle inhibitors leading to DNA damage, mutations, apoptosis and tumorigenesis. NAD(+) is linked to aging in the regulation of telomere stability. NAD(+) is required for mitochondrial renewal. Alcohol dehydrogenase is present in every visceral organ in the body so that there is a systemic reduction of NAD(+) levels in all of these organs during binge drinking.

Keywords: Alcoholic dehydrogenase; Binge drinking; Blood alcoholic levels (BAL); Co-substrate; De-acetylase; NAD(+); NADH; Sirtuin (SIRT).

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Binge Drinking / metabolism*
  • Binge Drinking / physiopathology
  • Cell Cycle Checkpoints / physiology
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • NAD / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Sirtuins / metabolism*


  • NAD
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase
  • Sirtuins