The role of alcoholism and liver disease in the appearance of serum antibodies against acetaldehyde adducts

Hepatology. 1988 May-Jun;8(3):569-74. doi: 10.1002/hep.1840080322.


We recently presented preliminary data indicating the presence of antibodies against acetaldehyde adducts in sera of over 70% of alcoholic patients. To assess the respective roles of liver disease and alcohol consumption as well as the specificity of this immune response, 141 patients in various stages of alcoholic and nonalcoholic liver diseases were tested by a hemagglutination assay. Sixty-three (73%) of 86 alcoholics had antibody titers above control levels (p less than 0.0001). Alcohol consumption of these individuals was significantly higher (p less than 0.001) than that of those alcoholics with normal titers. Twenty-two patients (39%) with nonalcoholic liver diseases also had elevated levels of antibodies against acetaldehyde adducts (p less than 0.0005); of these, 8 had primary biliary cirrhosis (7 in Stages III and IV), 9 had chronic active hepatitis (6 with cirrhosis) and 5 had acute (virus- or drug-induced) hepatitis. Antibody titers did not correlate with levels of transaminase or alkaline phosphatase activity, nor with bilirubin, and albumin. However, in 52 alcoholics and in nonalcoholic patients with biopsy-confirmed liver disease, the highest titers were seen in the more advanced stages of liver damage. Thus, in addition to alcohol consumption, severity of liver disease may play a role in the appearance of circulating antibodies against acetaldehyde adducts.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetaldehyde / immunology*
  • Alcoholism / immunology*
  • Antibodies / analysis*
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Biopsy
  • Hemagglutination Inhibition Tests
  • Hemagglutination Tests
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / immunology*
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / immunology*


  • Antibodies
  • Acetaldehyde