Alcohol Vapor Inhalation as a Model of Alcohol-Induced Organ Disease

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2016 Aug;40(8):1671-8. doi: 10.1111/acer.13133. Epub 2016 Jul 4.


Background: Chronic intermittent ethanol vapor (CIEV) exposure has been used extensively to produce rodent models of alcohol dependence, but unlike other models of alcohol abuse, CIEV has not been assessed as a model of end-organ damage. The purpose of this study was to characterize the effects of CIEV on peripheral organ systems affected by alcohol abuse, including the liver, lungs, and cardiovascular system.

Methods: Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were exposed to daily CIEV for a period of 8 weeks (14HR ON/10HR OFF), producing blood alcohol levels of ~200 mg/dl. Controls were exposed to room air. After 8 weeks, echocardiography was performed to assess cardiac function. Indices of liver injury (alanine and aspartate aminotransferases [ALT and AST]; cytochrome p450 2E1 [CYP2E1]; alcohol dehydrogenase [ADH]; Oil Red O and triglyceride content; lipid peroxidation; inflammatory cytokine expression; and macrophage infiltration), and lung inflammatory cell count, proinflammatory cytokine expression, and lipid peroxidation were measured.

Results: Left ventricular posterior wall thickness was significantly decreased, and systolic blood pressure was significantly elevated by CIEV compared with air controls. CIEV led to a significant increase in plasma ALT and triglycerides compared with room air controls. CIEV did not affect liver triglyceride content, lipid staining or peroxidation, but increased CYP2E1 and chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2) protein expression, while decreasing ADH expression. CIEV significantly increased numbers of both polymorphonuclear neutrophils and lymphocytes in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, indicative of pulmonary inflammation. However, CIEV did not produce significant changes in lung mass, pulmonary lipid peroxidation, inflammatory cytokine expression, or edema.

Conclusions: These results show that CIEV produces hepatic, pulmonary, and cardiovascular effects in rats similar to those found in other models of chronic alcohol administration. Alcohol vapor administration is a novel method of alcohol-induced tissue injury with high potential for widespread use in alcohol toxicology research.

Keywords: Alcohol Abuse; Alcohol Administration; Alcohol Vapor; Cardiovascular Disease; Liver Disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Alcohol-Induced Disorders / blood*
  • Alcohol-Induced Disorders / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Bone Density / drug effects
  • Bone Density / physiology
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Edema / blood
  • Edema / chemically induced
  • Edema / pathology
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage*
  • Ethanol / toxicity*
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / blood
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / pathology
  • Lung Diseases / blood
  • Lung Diseases / chemically induced
  • Lung Diseases / pathology
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Volatilization


  • Ethanol