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How does alcohol generate oxidizing agents in liver?

Alcohol, when consumed, is primarily metabolized in the liver. This process generates oxidizing agents as a byproduct. The metabolism of alcohol occurs in two main steps:

1. Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) catalyzes the conversion of alcohol (ethanol) to acetaldehyde. This reaction also generates NADH from NAD+.

2. Acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) then converts acetaldehyde to acetate, which is a non-toxic compound. This step also generates NADH from NAD+.

The generation of NADH during these steps is significant because NADH is a strong reducing agent, and its accumulation can lead to the production of oxidizing agents. This happens through a process called the redox shuttle, where the excess NADH is used to regenerate NAD+ by oxidizing other molecules. This results in the generation of oxidizing agents, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS), in the liver.

These oxidizing agents can cause damage to cellular components, such as proteins, lipids, and DNA, leading to oxidative stress and potentially contributing to the development of alcohol-related liver diseases, such as alcoholic steatohepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis.


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2. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. (2019). Alcohol Metabolism: An Update. Retrieved from <>
3. Cederbaum, A. I. (2012). Alcohol-induced oxidative stress: mechanisms, clinical implications, and biomarkers. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 36(suppl_1), 105–115. <>

Follow-up:   How does alcohol trigger oxidization agents' production in the liver? What role does alcohol play in forming liver oxidizing agents? Can you explain how alcohol initiates the generation of oxidizers in the liver?

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