Background/aims: In vivo hepatic 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) can provide information on hepatic energy metabolism, phospholipid substrates, and hepatocyte lipid bilayers. The aim of this study was to ascertain the effects of alcohol ingestion on hepatic 31P spectral variables.
Methods: Twenty-six chronic alcohol abusers underwent hepatic 31P MRS 6-12 hours after their last alcoholic drink; studies were repeated in 17 individuals following abstinence from alcohol. The reference population comprised 16 healthy volunteers. Ratios of phosphomonoesters (PME), inorganic phosphate, and phosphodiesters (PDE) relative to beta-adenosine triphosphate (ATP) were measured.
Results: In patients with minimal liver injury, recent drinking was associated with a significant elevation in the mean PDE/ATP ratio (P < 0.0001) and an increase in mean PME/ATP, which was not significant; abstinence was associated with reductions in both metabolite ratios. In patients with alcoholic cirrhosis, recent drinking was associated with an elevation in mean PME/ATP (P < 0.05) and an increase in mean PDE/ATP, which was not significant; abstinence was associated with no significant change in PME/ATP but with a reduction in PDE/ATP.
Conclusions: In the absence of significant liver injury, chronic alcohol abuse is associated with the elevation of PME/ATP, possibly reflecting changes in hepatic redox potential, and of PDE/ATP, most likely reflecting the induction of hepatocyte endoplasmic reticulum. In the presence of cirrhosis, these changes are attenuated and modified.