Biological Trace Element Research

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 179–191 | Cite as

Zinc, ethanol, and lipid peroxidation in adult and fetal rats

  • Ivor E. Dreosti
  • Eric J. Partick


Studies were performed on adult and fetal rats receiving either a zinc-deficient (<0.5 ppm) diet and/or ethanol (20%) throughout pregnancy. Liver zinc levels were depressed in fetuses exposed toin utero zinc deficiency, but brain zinc levels were unchanged. Ethanol had no effect on the concentration of zinc in the several fetal and adult tissues studies. Lipid peroxidation, as measured by endogenous levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) increased following food restriction, zinc improverishment, and alcoholism in adult and fetal livers, but not in fetal brains. Generally, levels of MDA were highest when both zinc deficiency and the ingestion of alcohol occurred concurrently. Glutathione (GSH) was depressed by zinc restriction in several adult and fetal tissues, but not in the fetal brain. Ethanol alone had no effect on GSH levels. The activity of the enzyme glutathione peroxidase (GSH-Px) was not changed in either organism by alcohol or zinc deficiency.

Overall, the data point to increased lipid peroxidation in maternal and fetal rat tissues following zinc depletion and/or treatment with alcohol and draw attention to the apparent vulnerability of the fetal liver toin utero alcoholism. By contrast, the fetal brain seems to be especially resistant to alcohol and zinc-related lipoperoxidation. An association is suggested between the increased lipoperoxidation accompanying zinc deficiency and reduced levels of GSH, but this does not appear to relate to changes in the activity of GSH-Px. A similar relationship is not evident with respect to the increased levels of MDA in fetal and adult livers following chronic alcohol intoxication. A possible basis for the zinc-GSH interaction is discussed.

Index Entries

Zinc, in adult and fetal rats ethanol, in adult and fetal rats lipid peroxidation, in adult and fetal rats malondialdehyde glutathione glutathione peroxidase zinc-glutathione peroxidase interaction, alcohol intoxication 


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Copyright information

© The Humana Press Inc 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ivor E. Dreosti
    • 1
  • Eric J. Partick
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Human NutritionCSIRO, AustraliaAdelaide

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