Serum and Muscle Levels of alpha-Tocopherol, Ascorbic Acid, and Retinol Are Normal in Chronic Alcoholic Myopathy

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Some authors have suggested a possible loss of antioxidant factors in alcoholic skeletal myopathy. To assess the relationship between ethanol consumption and serum and muscle levels of alpha-tocopherol, ascorbic acid, and retinol in chronic alcoholics with and without skeletal myopathy, a prospective cross-sectional study was performed in the Alcohol Unit of a 1000-bed university hospital. Twenty-five chronic male alcoholic patients (10 with skeletal myopathy) and 15 male controls of similar age were included. Evaluation of daily and lifetime ethanol consumption, assessment of anthropometric and protein nutritional parameters, and open biopsy of the left deltoid muscle were performed, as well as determinations of serum and muscle levels of retinol, alpha-tocopherol, and ascorbic acid by HPLC analysis. Ten of the 25 chronic alcoholic patients presented histological criteria of skeletal myopathy. Four alcoholics presented caloric malnutrition and three protein malnutrition. All of the muscle biopsies of the control group were entirely normal, as were their nutritional studies. The serum and muscular levels of alpha-tocopherol, ascorbic acid, and retinol were normal and were similar in both alcoholics and controls. Except for serum retinol, these values were also similar in alcoholic patients with or without skeletal myopathy. In the univariate analysis, we identified the total lifetime dose of ethanol (p < 0.003), the muscle arm area (p < 0.05), and serum levels of prealbumin (p < 0.03) and retinol-binding protein (p < 0.05) as factors influencing the development of alcoholic myopathy. However, in multivariate analysis, the total lifetime dose of ethanol was the only independent factor in relation to alcoholic myopathy (p < 0.003). Serum and muscle levels of the antioxidants alpha-tocopherol, ascorbic acid, and retinol do not influence the presence of skeletal myopathy in chronic alcoholic patients.

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