Endogenous isopropanol: forensic and biochemical implications

J Anal Toxicol. 1984 Sep-Oct;8(5):209-12. doi: 10.1093/jat/8.5.209.


Concomitant findings of isopropanol and acetone in biospecimens of decedents known not to have been exposed to the alcohol prompted a study to explain its origins. Mixtures of acetone, ADH, and NADH at pHs 7.3 and 8.8 were incubated at 37 degrees C for varying intervals. Reaction products were then analyzed by headspace GC and assured identification made by GC/MS. It was found that isopropanol is produced by reduction of acetone at pH 7.3 (to a lesser extent at pH 8.8), providing evidence for an alternate metabolic route for acetone. A mechanism for this reduction is proposed. Ranges for isopropanol (in mg/dL or mg/100 g) found in unexposed decedents were: blood 1-29; liver 7-59; brain 2-12; kidney 6-26. Thus, the forensic investigator must interpret isopropanol results cautiously, particularly when low concentrations are found.

MeSH terms

  • 1-Propanol / analysis*
  • Acetone / analysis
  • Acetone / metabolism
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases / pharmacology
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Forensic Medicine*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration


  • Acetone
  • 1-Propanol
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase