Acetaldehyde Levels in Peripheral Venous Blood and Breath of Human Volunteers

  • Allan R. Stowell
  • Kathryn E. Crow
  • Kenneth G. Couchman
  • Richard D. Batt
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 126)


If the extrahepatic metabolism of acetaldehyde in humans is similar to that which occurs in rats (1-6), venous blood acetaldehyde concentrations may not reflect those in potentially sensitive organs such as the brain. It is important to obtain estimates of the levels of acetaldehyde in blood (a) leaving the liver, in order to determine the maximum toxic potential of acetaldehyde, and (b) presented to the brain, since current theories proposing a role for acetaldehyde in the development of addiction to ethanol involve its interaction with components of the central nervous system (7,8).


Peripheral Venous Blood Partition Ratio Acetaldehyde Level Blood Ethanol Concentration Hepatic Venous Blood 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. (1).
    Forsander, O.A., Hillbom, M.E. and Lindros, K.O. (1969). Influence of thyroid function on the acetaldehyde level of blood and liver of intact rats during ethanol metabolism. Acta Pharmacol. et Toxicol. 27, 410–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. (2).
    Kesäniemi, Y.A. and Sippel, H.W. (1975). Placental and fetal metabolism of acetaldehyde in rat — I. Contents of ethanol and acetaldehyde in placenta and fetus of the pregnant rat during ethanol oxidation. Acta Pharmacol, et Toxicol. 37, 43–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. (3).
    Sippel, H.W. and Kesäniemi, Y.A. (1975). Placental and fetal metabolism of acetaldehyde in rat — II. Studies on metabolism of acetaldehyde in the isolated placenta and fetus. Acta Pharmacol, et Toxical. 37, 49–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. (4).
    Marchner, H. and Tottmar, O. (1976). Influence of diet on the metabolism of acetaldehyde in rats. Acta Pharmacol, et Toxicol. 38, 59–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. (5).
    Tottmar, O. and Marchner, H. (1976). Disulfiram as a tool in the studies on the metabolism of acetaldehyde in rats. Acta Pharmacol, et Toxicol. 38, 366–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. (6).
    Eriksson, C.J.P. and Sippel, H.W. (1977). The distribution and metabolism of acetaldehyde in rats during ethanol oxidation — I. The distribution of acetaldehyde in liver, brain, blood and breath. Biochem. Pharm. 26, 241–247.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. (7).
    Rahwan, R.G. (1975). Toxic effects of ethanol. Possible role of acetaldehyde, tetrahydroisoquinolines, and tetrahydro-β-carbolines. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 34, 3–27.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. (8).
    Deitrich, R.A. (1976). Biochemical aspects of alcoholism. Psychoneuroendocrinology 1, 325–346.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. (9).
    Green, H.D. (1950); cited in Principles of Human Physiology, 13th Edition, edited by Davson, H. and Eggleton, M.G. Whitefriars Press Ltd., London and Tonbridge, p. 224.Google Scholar
  10. (10).
    Freund, G. and O’Hollaren, P. (1965). Acetaldehyde concentrations in alveolar air following a standard dose of ethanol in man. J. Lipid Res. 6, 471–477.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. (11).
    Fukui, Y. (1969). Gas chromatographic determination of acetaldehyde in the expired air after ingestion of ethanol. Jap. J. Leg. Med. 23, 24–40.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. (12).
    Stowell, A.R., Greenway, R.M. and Batt, R.D. (1977). Acetaldehyde formation during deproteinization of human blood samples containing ethanol. Biochem. Med. 18, 92–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. (13).
    Stowell, A.R., Crow, K.E., Greenway, R.M. and Batt R.D. (1978). Determination of acetaldehyde in blood using automated distillation and fluorometry. Anal. Biochem. 84, 384–392.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. (14).
    Harger, R.N., Raney, B.B., Bridwell, E.G. and Kitchel, M.K. (1950a). The partition ratio of alcohol between air and water, urine and blood; estimations and identification of alcohol in these liquids from analysis of air equilibrated with them. J. Biol. Chem. 183, 197–213.Google Scholar
  15. (15).
    Harger, R.N., Forney, R.B. and Barnes, H.B. (1950b). Estimation of the level of blood alcohol from analysis of breath. J. Lab. Clin. Med. 36, 306–318.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. (16).
    Stotz, E. (1943). A colorimetric determination of acetaldehyde in blood. J. Biol. Chem. 148, 585–591.Google Scholar
  17. (17).
    Duritz, G. and Truitt, E.B. (1964). A rapid method for the simultaneous determination of acetaldehyde and ethanol in blood using gas chromatography. Quart. J. Stud. Alc. 25, 498–510.Google Scholar
  18. (18).
    Freundt, K.J. (1970). Verteilung and Stoffwechsel von acetaldehyde in blut. Beitr. Gerichl. Med. 27, 368–372.Google Scholar
  19. (19).
    Korsten, M.A., Matsuzaki, S., Feinman, L. and Lieber, C.S. (1975). High blood acetaldehyde levels after ethanol administration. New Engl. J. Med. 292, 386–389.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allan R. Stowell
    • 1
  • Kathryn E. Crow
    • 1
  • Kenneth G. Couchman
    • 1
  • Richard D. Batt
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryBiochemistry and Biophysics Massey UniversityPalmerston NorthNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations