, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 337-344

The kinetics of ethanol absorption and elimination in twins and supplementary repetitive experiments in singleton subjects

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The influence of genetic and environmental factors on the metabolism of a single oral dose of ethanol 1.2 ml per kg body weight was analysed in 19 identical and 21 fraternal healthy, adult, un-selected male twin pairs. The heritability values of the rates of absorption, degradation and elimination of ethanol were 0.57, 0.41 and 0.46 respectively. Environmental factors, such as daily alcohol intake and smoking, increased the rate of elimination of blood alcohol. Intrasubject variation in ethanol metabolism was studied by repeated tests in 11 male volunteers at intervals of at least 2 months, under the same conditions as in the twins; the coefficients of variation for parameters of metabolism was about 8%. The results demonstrate both genetic control of ethanol absorption, degradation and elimination and the appreciable influence of environmental factors. The almost total genetic control of ethanol metabolism postulated by Vesell et al. (1971) could not be confirmed.

Supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SFB 35 Heidelberg.