Men and women drinking equal amounts of alcohol have unequal risks for liver damage

Hormones play key role in how much damage the liver incurs due to chronic alcohol consumption

PITTSBURGH, PA -- Ethanol is the active ingredient in all alcoholic beverages including beer, wine and hard liquor. Ingestion of fermented beverages containing ethanol has been known since the beginning of recorded history. Ethanol was first thought to have strong medicinal properties but now it is acknowledged that chronic consumption of excessive amounts of alcohol is a major source of social and medical problems.

Researchers have established that chronic ethanol is a depressant drug that disturbs the normal chemical actions of nerve cells resulting in reduced efficiency of neural impulse conductance. Additionally, excessive consumption can lead to various biochemical and intracellular changes that may cause alcoholinduced liver injury. Men and women who chronically consume ethanol may have different susceptibility to the alcohols damage to their liver due to altered expression of genes related to liver function. To test that assumption, University of Pittsburgh researchers set out to determine sex-specific expression of genes in the livers of rats chronically fed alcohol.

The authors of the study, Gender Differences in Hepatic Gene Expression in Response to Chronic Ethanol Exposure, are P.K. Eagon, Ph.D., M.S. Elm, H.S. Li, G.J. Van Londen, D.C. Whitcomb, and S.D. Tadic, all from the VA Medical Center and the Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA. Their findings are being presented at the upcoming conference, Genomes and Hormones: An Integrative Approach to Gender Differences in Physiology, being sponsored by the American Physiological Society (APS), and held October 17-20, 2001, at the Westin Convention Center, Pittsburgh, Pa.

Methodology and Results
Rats were fed diets containing alcohol or alcohol-free diets for 30 days to induce fatty liver

Contact: Donna Krupa
American Physiological Society

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