A mutagenicity assessment of acetaldehyde

Mutat Res. 1988 Jan;195(1):1-20. doi: 10.1016/0165-1110(88)90013-9.


Acetaldehyde has been shown in studies by several different laboratories to be a clastogen (chromosome-breaking) and inducer of sister-chromatid exchanges in cultured mammalian cells (Chinese hamster cells and human lymphocytes). Although there have been very few studies in intact mammals, the available evidence suggests that acetaldehyde produces similar cytogenetic effects in vivo. The production of cytogenetic abnormalities may be related to the ability of acetaldehyde to form DNA-DNA and/or DNA-protein cross-links. Acetaldehyde apparently has not been evaluated for its ability to cause gene mutations in cultured mammalian cells, but it has been shown to produce sex-linked recessive lethals in Drosophila. In general, bacteria tests have been negative. Although acetaldehyde is a genotoxic cross-linking agent, it does not appear to cause DNA strand breaks. There were no studies available regarding the potential of acetaldehyde to produce genetic damage in mammalian germ cells in vivo. Most mutagenicity testing on acetaldehyde has been motivated by attempts to define the proximate mutagen in ethanol metabolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetaldehyde / metabolism
  • Acetaldehyde / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Bacteria / drug effects
  • Caenorhabditis / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Damage
  • Drosophila melanogaster / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Mammals
  • Mutagenicity Tests
  • Peroxides / pharmacology
  • Plants / drug effects
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae / drug effects
  • Sister Chromatid Exchange / drug effects


  • Peroxides
  • Acetaldehyde