Differences in the serum levels of acetaldehyde and cytotoxic acetaldehyde-albumin complexes after the consumption of red and white wine: In vitro effects of flavonoids, vitamin E, and other dietary antioxidants on cytotoxic complexes

S. N. Wickramasinghe, R. Hasan, Z. Khalpey

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After the consumption of ethanol, acetaldehyde levels increase in the serum, and the serum develops a nondialyzable cytotoxic activity caused by the formation of unstable acetaldehyde-albumin complexes. The concentration of acetaldehyde in the serum and the cytotoxic activity in serum albumin 8.5 hr after six healthy volunteers began to drink 94 g of ethanol were significantly less when the ethanol was consumed as red wine than as white wine. The serum acetaldehyde was measured by a fluorigenic HPLC assay, and the cytotoxic activity in albumin was determined using two different assays based on dissimilar endpoints: (1) detachment of adherent A9 cells and (2) impairment of the ability of A9 calls to reduce tetrazolium. When serum obtained from five other healthy volunteers after the consumption of white wine was incubated at 37°C for 3 hr with a number of dietary antioxidants at a concentration of 100 μmol/liter, the cytotoxicity of the albumin was markedly reduced. The antioxidants studied consisted of six flavonoids (kaempherol, fisetin, quercetin, catechin, texifolin, and coumarin) and three nonflavonoids (salicylic acid, tannic acid, and α-tocopherol). In the case of α-tocopherol, a statistically significant reduction of cytotoxicity was observed at s concentration of 10 μmol/liter. In addition, the cytotoxicity of artificially prepared acetaldehyde-albumin complexes was significantly reduced when such complexes were incubated with 50 to 100 μmol/liter of kaempherol, fisetin, quercetin, coumarin or salicylic acid, or 10 μmol/liter of α-tocopherol at 37°C for 3 hr. Evidently, in vitro, flavonoid and nonflavonoid dietary constituents reduce the amount of unstable acetaldehyde- albumin complexes found in both postalcohol serum and in artificially produced acetaldehyde-albumin complexes. The difference in the amount of unstable acetaldehyde-albumin complexes found in serum after the consumption of red and white wine may therefore be caused by the higher concentration of antioxidants, including flavonoids, in red wine than in white wine. Because acetaldehyde and acetaldehyde-albumin complexes have been implicated in the pathogenesis of alcohol-mediated tissue damage, these data suggest that dietary antioxidants may influence the biological consequences of excess alcohol consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)799-803
Number of pages5
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996



  • Acetaldehyde
  • Alcohol
  • Cytotoxic Acetaldehyde-Albumin Complexes
  • Flavonoids
  • Nonflavonoid Antioxidants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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