Alpha-ketoglutarate reduces ethanol toxicity in Drosophila melanogaster by enhancing alcohol dehydrogenase activity and antioxidant capacity

Alcohol. 2016 Sep;55:23-33. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2016.07.009. Epub 2016 Aug 31.


Ethanol at low concentrations (<4%) can serve as a food source for fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, whereas at higher concentrations it may be toxic. In this work, protective effects of dietary alpha-ketoglutarate (AKG) against ethanol toxicity were studied. Food supplementation with 10-mM AKG alleviated toxic effects of 8% ethanol added to food, and improved fly development. Two-day-old adult flies, reared on diet containing both AKG and ethanol, possessed higher alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) activity as compared with those reared on control diet or diet with ethanol only. Native gel electrophoresis data suggested that this combination diet might promote post-translational modifications of ADH protein with the formation of a highly active ADH form. The ethanol-containing diet led to significantly higher levels of triacylglycerides stored in adult flies, and this parameter was not altered by AKG supplement. The influence of diet on antioxidant defenses was also assessed. In ethanol-fed flies, catalase activity was higher in males and the levels of low molecular mass thiols were unchanged in both sexes compared to control values. Feeding on a mixture of AKG and ethanol did not affect catalase activity but caused a higher level of low molecular mass thiols compared to ethanol-fed flies. It can be concluded that both a stimulation of some components of antioxidant defense and the increase in ADH activity may be responsible for the protective effects of AKG diet supplementation in combination with ethanol. The results suggest that AKG might be useful as a treatment option to neutralize toxic effects of excessive ethanol intake and to improve the physiological state of D. melanogaster and other animals, potentially including humans.

Keywords: Fruit fly; Isozyme; Low molecular mass thiols; Pupation; Triacylglycerides.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Antioxidants / metabolism*
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Eating / drug effects
  • Eating / physiology
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Enzyme Activation / physiology
  • Ethanol / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Ethanol / toxicity*
  • Female
  • Ketoglutaric Acids / pharmacology*
  • Male


  • Antioxidants
  • Ketoglutaric Acids
  • Ethanol
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase