Dietary carbohydrate intake plays an important role in preventing alcoholic fatty liver in the rat

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Dietary carbohydrate intake during ethanol ingestion augments the induction of hepatic cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) by ethanol. This study addresses the role of carbohydrate intake in the development of alcoholic fatty liver in the rat.


Male Sprague-Dawley rats were pair-fed on liquid diets containing ethanol (3.5 g/day, 36% of total calories) with different amounts of carbohydrate and fat for 4 weeks, and the development of fatty liver was observed biochemically and morphologically.


An ethanol-containing low-carbohydrate diet (protein 17%; fat 36%; carbohydrate 11%; ethanol 36%) had more markedly adverse effects on the liver of rats than did an isocaloric ethanol-containing high-carbohydrate diet (protein 17%; fat 5%; carbohydrate 42%; ethanol 36%). The hepatic triglyceride level in the rats that consumed the low-carbohydrate diet was higher than that in the rats kept on the high-carbohydrate diet, a finding that was confirmed histologically. The ethanol-containing low-carbohydrate diet caused a marked increase in the activity of hepatic CYP2E1. The CYP2E1 protein level, as measured by Western blot analysis, matched the activity of CYP2E1, as measured by the rates of dimethylnitrosamine, p-nitrophenol and ethanol metabolism. The severity of the fatty liver was well correlated with the increased CYP2E1 activity.


Dietary carbohydrate intake plays an important role in the development of alcoholic fatty liver by affecting CYP2E1 activity in the liver. A liquid diet containing ethanol in which the ethanol is included at the expense of fat is more acceptable to rats than a diet in which the ethanol replaces carbohydrate.

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