Gastrointestinal alcohol dehydrogenase

Nutr Rev. 1998 Feb;56(2 Pt 1):52-60. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.1998.tb01692.x.


Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) consists of a family of isozymes that convert alcohols to their corresponding aldehydes using NAD+ as a cofactor. The metabolism of ethanol by gastrointestinal ADH isozymes results in the production of acetaldehyde, a highly toxic compound that binds to cellular protein and DNA if not further metabolized to acetate by acetaldehyde dehydrogenase isozymes. Acetaldehyde seems to be involved in ethanol-associated cocarcinogenesis. The metabolism of retinol and the generation of retinoic acid is a function of class I and class IV ADH, and its inhibition by alcohol may lead to an alteration of epithelial cell differentiation and cell growth and may also be involved in ethanol-associated gastrointestinal cocarcinogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acetaldehyde / metabolism
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / analysis
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Carcinogens / metabolism
  • Digestive System / enzymology*
  • Ethanol / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / analysis
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism*
  • NAD / metabolism


  • Carcinogens
  • Isoenzymes
  • NAD
  • Ethanol
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase
  • Acetaldehyde