alcohol metabolism

Last reviewed 03/2023

  • the vast majority of ingested alcohol (90-98%) is oxidised to acetaldehyde. This mainly occurs via the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase in the liver. Metabolism of alcohol to acetaldehyde may also occur via liver microsomal mixed-function oxidases. However this pathway is, in general, not important unless the concentration of alcohol in the bloodstream is high.
  • acetaldehyde is converted to acetyl-conenzyme A. This in turn is either oxidised to carbon dioxide and water, or used in the synthesis of cholesterol and other tissue constituents.
  • The rate of alcohol metabolism is affected by age, previous alcohol consumption, gender, and genetic factors.