Aldehyde dehydrogenases of the rat colon: comparison with other tissues of the alimentary tract and the liver

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1996 May;20(3):551-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.1996.tb01091.x.


Intracolonic bacteria have previously been shown to produce substantial amounts of acetaldehyde during ethanol oxidation, and it has been suggested that this acetaldehyde might be associated with alcohol-related colonic disorders, as well as other alcohol-induced organ injuries. The capacity of colonic mucosa to remove this bacterial acetaldehyde by aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) is, however, poorly known. We therefore measured ALDH activities and determined ALDH isoenzyme profiles from different subcellular fractions of rat colonic mucosa. For comparison, hepatic, gastric, and small intestinal samples were studied similarly. Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) activities were also measured from all of these tissues. Rat colonic mucosa was found to possess detectable amounts of ALDH activity with both micromolar and millimolar acetaldehyde concentrations and in all subcellular fractions. The ALDH activities of colonic mucosa were, however, generally low when compared with the liver and stomach, and they also tended to be lower than in small intestine. Mitochondrial low K(m) ALDH2 and cytosolic ALDH with low K(m) for acetaldehyde were expressed in the colonic mucosa, whereas some cytosolic high K(m) isoenzymes found in the small intestine and stomach were not detectable in colonic samples. Cytosolic ADH activity corresponded well to ALDH activity in different tissues: in colonic mucosa, it was approximately 6 times lower than in the liver and about one-half of gastric ADH activity. ALDH activity of the colonic mucosa should, thus, be sufficient for the removal of acetaldehyde produced by colonic mucosal ADH during ethanol oxidation. It may, however, be insufficient for the removal of the acetaldehyde produced by intracolonic bacteria. This may lead to the accumulation of acetaldehyde in the colon and colonic mucosa after ingestion of ethanol that might, at least after chronic heavy alcohol consumption, contribute to the development of alcohol-related colonic morbidity, diarrhea, and cancer.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetaldehyde / pharmacokinetics
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Colon / enzymology*
  • Digestive System / enzymology*
  • Ethanol / pharmacokinetics
  • Intestinal Mucosa / enzymology
  • Isoelectric Focusing
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Clearance Rate / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Tissue Distribution


  • Isoenzymes
  • Ethanol
  • Aldehyde Dehydrogenase
  • Acetaldehyde