Acetaldehyde-modified epitopes in liver biopsy specimens of alcoholic and nonalcoholic patients: localization and association with progression of liver fibrosis

Hepatology. 1994 Feb;19(2):367-74.


Acetaldehyde, the first product of ethanol oxidation, has been shown to stimulate collagen gene expression and to form protein-acetaldehyde adducts. Because little is known about these adducts in human liver tissue, we assessed, with an immunohistochemical procedure, the presence and location of acetaldehyde-protein adducts in liver biopsy specimens of alcoholic patients. In addition, we correlated the presence of adducts with the progression or subsequent occurrence of liver fibrosis. The group included 106 patients with high alcohol consumption (> 90 gm ethanol/day for the last 5 yr), 10 nonalcoholic patients with normal livers and 23 patients with other liver diseases. Sixty-four of the 106 alcoholic patients had a second liver biopsy, whose specimen was used to assess the progression of liver fibrosis. Polyclonal antibodies were produced against homologous low-density lipoprotein purified from rabbit serum and modified in vitro in the presence of acetaldehyde. Protein-acetaldehyde adducts could be detected by immunohistochemistry in biopsy specimens of 90 alcoholic patients (85%), in none of the 10 nonalcoholic patients with normal livers and in 65% of the patients with nonalcoholic liver disease. Acetaldehyde-modified epitopes were detected in the intracellular and extracellular compartment. Intracellular protein-acetaldehyde adducts were localized in the cytoplasm of hepatocytes with a more intense staining in zone 3. No correlation existed between the intensity of intracellular staining and the histologically assessed severity of liver disease.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetaldehyde / analysis*
  • Acetaldehyde / immunology
  • Adult
  • Antibody Specificity
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Epitopes / analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Liver / chemistry*
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / etiology*
  • Liver Cirrhosis, Alcoholic / pathology
  • Liver Diseases / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis


  • Epitopes
  • Acetaldehyde