Opposite effects of dietary saturated and unsaturated fatty acids on ethanol-pharmacokinetics, triglycerides and carnitines

J Am Coll Nutr. 1994 Aug;13(4):338-43. doi: 10.1080/07315724.1994.10718419.


Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the effects of saturated fatty acid (SFA) and unsaturated fatty acid (UFA) diets on ethanol pharmacokinetics. Hepatic ADH and plasma carnitines were also evaluated as possible indicators of the mechanism involved.

Methods: Sprague-Dawley male rats were fed modified AIN76 diets containing 10% coconut oil (SFA) or corn oil (UFA) for 120 days. A single dose (3 g/kg bw) of ethanol (13% solution) was orally administered using a gastric canula on day 30, 90, 105 and 120. Tail vein blood samples were collected at various intervals following ethanol dose and were analyzed for blood-ethanol concentration (BEC). In an analogous trial rats were given these diets for 70 days and blood samples were collected on day 35 and 63 for triglycerides, cholesterol and carnitine determination. The animals were killed on day 70 to collect liver for ADH determination.

Results: Compared to the UFA group, the SFA group exhibited significantly higher BEC, larger area under the curve, longer half-life of ethanol, and lower rates of ethanol elimination. Plasma carnitines were also higher in the SFA vs UFA group. However, hepatic ADH activity was not different between the groups.

Conclusion: Dietary SFA protects liver from alcohol injury by retarding ethanol metabolism, and carnitine may be involved.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Carnitine / blood*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Ethanol / pharmacokinetics*
  • Fatty Acids / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / pharmacology*
  • Half-Life
  • Kinetics
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Triglycerides / blood*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated
  • Triglycerides
  • Ethanol
  • Cholesterol
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase
  • Carnitine