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Effects of ethanol ingestion and urinary acidity on the metabolism of triethylamine in man


In four volunteers exposed to triethylamine (TEA) by inhalation (20 mg/m3, 8 h), the non-renal clearance of TEA into triethylamine-N-oxide (TEAO) was inhibited by 15 to 30% by intake of ethanol (blood serum level in average 25mmol/l). Ethanol intake caused a decrease of plasma levels of TEA and TEAO, and of the fractional formation of TEAO. This may partly be due to a second effect of ethanol; it caused a slight decrease of urinary pH, which led to an increase of the urinary TEA excretion rate, with a possible withdrawal of TEA from oxygenation. Indeed, this effect was efficiently counteracted by intake of sodium bicarbonate, which caused a decrease of renal clearance of TEA, and increases of plasma levels of TEA and TEAO, and of the fractional formation of TEAO. A change of urinary pH by about two units caused a change of renal clearance of TEA by a factor of three and of the oxygenation by two. The renal clearance of TEAO was not affected by urinary pH.

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Correspondence to B. Åkesson.

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Åkesson, B., Skerfving, S. Effects of ethanol ingestion and urinary acidity on the metabolism of triethylamine in man. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 62, 89–93 (1990).

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Key words

  • Triethylamine
  • Ethanol
  • Biotransformation
  • Urinary
  • pH