Genes modify the risk of liver disease among alcoholics

It has been widely observed that only a small percentage of alcoholics develop cirrhosis of the liver, the most advanced form of alcoholic liver disease (ALD); the reason why all alcoholics do not develop such disease is not known. The present study from Spain, that includes original work and a meta-analysis, evaluates whether genetic polymorphisms that determine levels of glutathione-S-transferases (GST) relate to the risk of developing ALD among alcoholics. Alcoholics with certain genetic GST polymorphisms were found to be at significant excess risk for such liver disease in comparison with alcoholics without these polymorphisms.

As stated by the authors, the theory that these enzymes may affect risk is based on the ability of certain GST alleles to detoxify harmful ethanol metabolites in the liver by conjugating acetaldehyde and ROS to reduced glutathione. The specific polymorphisms that the authors found to be associated with increased liver disease are among those that would be expected to lower the activity of the corresponding GST enzymes; this would permit higher levels of toxic metabolites of alcohol and oxidative stress to be present for longer periods of time after .

Some Forum reviewers thought that while the study was well done, the authors were unclear how these data could directly lead to "potential therapeutic targets" for liver disease in alcoholics. Nevertheless, the original study and meta-analysis provide important data on how specific genetic factors relate to the development of liver disease among alcoholics and could theoretically lead to better strategies for the prevention and treatment of .

More information: Marcos M, Pastor I, Chamorro A-J, Ciria-Abad S, González-Sarmiento R, Laso F-J. Meta-analysis: glutathione-S-transferase allelic variants are associated with alcoholic liver disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2011;34:1159.

For the detailed critique of this paper by the International Scientific Forum on Alcohol Research, go to www.bu.edu/alcohol-forum or www.bu.edu/alcohol-forum/criti… ics-5-december-2011/

Provided by Boston University Medical Center

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Antioxidant may prevent alcohol-induced liver disease

May 02, 2011

An antioxidant may prevent damage to the liver caused by excessive alcohol, according to new research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The findings, published online April 21, 2011, in the journal Hepatology, may po ...

Recommended for you

Ebola death toll rises to 5,459: WHO

5 hours ago

The World Health Organization said Friday that 5,459 people had so far died of Ebola out of a total 15,351 cases of infection in eight countries since late December 2013.

Flu season off to a slow start ... for now

8 hours ago

(HealthDay)—This year's flu season is off to a slow but detectable start. And it appears to be a typical one that's likely to peak in January or February, a leading U.S. health official says.

Update on new treatments for liver diseases

9 hours ago

Cirrhosis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are two serious liver conditions with limited pharmacological treatments. The December issues of AGA's journals—Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology and Gastro ...

Amateur photographers aid in remote skin sore trial

10 hours ago

Paediatric infectious disease specialists are bringing novel skin sore research methods to WA in the form of a protocol allowing non-professional photographers to capture high-quality images of skin sores ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.