Formation of malondialdehyde adducts in livers of rats exposed to ethanol: Role in ethanol mediated inhibition of cytochrome c oxidase

Juanjuan Chen, Dennis R. Petersen, Steven Schenker, George I. Henderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Background: Previous studies in our laboratory demonstrated that short- term ethanol consumption by maternal rats increased the hepatic levels of 4- hydroxynonenal (HNE) in both the adult and the fetus. Additionally, HNE inhibited cytochrome c oxidase (COX) by forming adducts with the enzyme subunits. The present study examined modification of COX by another major aldehydic lipid peroxidation product, malondialdehyde (MDA), and its role in COX inhibition by ethanol. Methods and Results: It is demonstrated in vitro that MDA inhibits the activity of purified COX while forming adducts with the enzyme. Compared with HNE, MDA is a more potent inhibitor of COX. Overnight incubation at room temperature caused an 80% decrease in COX activity by MDA versus a 67% decrease by HNE. MDA produced marked inhibition of COX activity at physiologically relevant concentrations, e.g., 43% inhibition at 10 μM. Although our previous studies documented that HNE formed adducts primarily with subunit IV of COX via histidine residues, the current report showed that MDA forms adducts with both subunit IV and subunit V via lysine residues. Furthermore, both aldehydes induce carbonyl formation in subunit IV. The in vivo role of MDA in the impairment of COX by ethanol is assessed in both adult and fetal liver after maternal ethanol consumption. Conclusions: The results showed that: (1) there are significant increases in MDA levels in liver homogenate as well as mitochondria in both adult and fetal livers after ethanol exposure; (2) these MDA levels are in the nanomole/mg protein range, in contrast to picomole/mg protein range of HNE in identical setting; and (3) ethanol-induced production of MDA is accompanied by enhanced formation of MDA adducts with COX. These findings suggest that MDA may play at least as equally an important role as HNE in ethanol-induced inhibition of COX.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)544-552
Number of pages9
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytochrome c Oxidase
  • Ethanol
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Mitochondria
  • Protein Adducts

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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