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Flashcards in Drugs of Abuse 3 – Alcohol Deck (34)
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What equation is used to determine the number of grams of alcohol per 100 ml?

ABV% x 0.78 = g/100 mL


What equation is used to calculate the number of units in a given volume of alcohol?

ABV% x volume (ml)/1000


What is the recommended weekly allowance of alcohol for men and women?

<14 units


What is the legal driving limit for alcohol?

80 mg/100 ml


Where is alcohol absorbed in the GI tract?

20% - stomach
80% - small intestine


What determines the speed of onset of the effects of alcohol?

The speed of onset of the effects of alcohol is proportional to the rate of gastric emptying


What proportion of alcohol is metabolised?

90% (the remaining 10% stays unmetabolised)


Out of the alcohol that is metabolised, what proportion is metabolised in the liver? Where does the rest of the metabolism take place?

85% - Liver
15% - Stomach


State two enzymes in the liver that are involved in metabolising alcohol.

Alcohol dehydrogenase
Mixed function oxidase
NOTE: these both convert alcohol to acetaldehyde


What is an important feature of mixed function oxidase?

It can be induced if you constantly expose yourself to alcohol – it is the reason for alcohol tolerance


Why would one large dose of alcohol give a higher plasma ethanol concentration than several small doses?

The liver enzymes that are responsible for metabolising alcohol are saturable
Giving a large dose at once is more likely to saturate the enzymes


Describe the metabolism of alcohol in the stomach. How does this differ in women compared to men?

The stomach contains alcohol dehydrogenase, which is responsible for15% of alcohol metabolism
Women have 50% less alcohol dehydrogenase in their stomachs than men


State one other reason why women, in general, can’t tolerate alcohol as well as men?

Women have a body water composition of about 50%
Men have a body water composition of about 59-60% so a given amount of alcohol will be more dilute in a man compared to a woman


Describe the metabolism of acetaldehyde.

Acetaldehyde is toxic and must be metabolised further
It is metabolised by aldehyde dehydrogenase to produce acetic acid


Name a drug that is used as an alcohol aversion therapy. Explain why it is used for this purpose.

Disulfiram – it is an aldehyde dehydrogenase inhibitor so it promotes the build up of acetaldehyde, which is responsible for most of the negative feelings associated with drinking


Why do some people (particularly Asians) tend to tolerate alcohol badly?

There is a common genetic polymorphism in the aldehyde dehydrogenase gene meaning that some people (particularly Asians) can’t convert acetaldehyde to acetic acid as efficiently so acetaldehyde builds up and makes them feel bad


Describe the pharmacological potency of alcohol.

Low pharmacological potency


What are the three major CNS targets of alcohol and what effectsdoes alcohol have on these targets?

GABA – alcohol increases allopregnenolone production (which facilitates the opening of chloride channels) – thus enhancing GABA action
NMDA – alcohol decreases NMDA receptor function
Ca2+ channels – alcohol reduces Ca2+ channel function meaning that there is less calcium influx, which negatively affects neurotransmitter exocytosis


Explain the counter-intuitive effects of alcohol on the central reward pathway.

GABA will reduce dopamine release and NMDA will increase dopaminerelease
However, alcohol enhances GABA and reduces NMDA activity


Name a few specific parts of the brain that are affected by alcohol and state how they are responsible for features of alcohol intoxication.

Hypothalamus – controls appetite, emotions, temperature
Reticular activating system – impairs consciousness
Hippocampus – amnestic effects
Cerebellum – movement and coordination
Basal ganglia – perception of time
Corpus callous- personality


Describe and explain the effects of alcohol on cutaneous vasculature.

Alcohol causes vasodilation (this is thought to be due to acetaldehyde)
It causes decrease calcium influx and increased prostaglandins --> vasodilation


Describe and explain the effects of alcohol of alcohol on heart rate.

Alcohol decreases the sensitivity of baroreceptors
This means decreased baroreceptor firing --> decreased parasympathetic firing + decreased inhibition of sympathetic firing --> INCREASED HEART RATE


Describe the effects of alcohol on the endocrine system.

Alcohol inhibits vasopressin release from the neurohypophysis
This means that alcohol is a powerful diuretic


How can chronic alcohol abuse lead to dementia?

Chronic alcohol caused cortical atrophy and a loss of cerebral white matter --> dementia


How can chronic alcohol abuse lead to ataxia?

Chronic alcohol can cause cerebellar cortex degeneration


State an important syndrome that is caused by chronic alcohol use.

Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome


Describe and explain how chronic alcoholism can cause this syndrome.

Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome is caused by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency
Chronic alcoholics tend to have a bad diet
Thiamine is an important cofactor in the generation of ATP within cells
The lack of thiamine impairs the Krebs’ cycle and leads to the build up of oxidative stress within the cells
The oxidative stress can cause mitochondrial damage and apoptosis
Wenicke’s Encephalopathy – caused by mitochondrial injury
Korsakoff’s Psychosis – cell apoptosis in the brain – this is irreversible and the patient will probably die


What are the chronic effects of alcohol on the liver?

Alcohol metabolism in the liver uses up NAD+ so it depletes the liver’s NAD+ stores and increases NADH
This inhibits beta-oxidation of lipids in the liver so you get an accumulation of fat in the liver
It also interferes with the Krebs’ cycle because, without NAD+, glucose can’t be converted to pyruvate, and pyruvate can’t be converted to Acetyl CoA
Pyruvate is converted to lactate
Acetyl CoA is converted to ketone bodies


How can chronic alcohol abuse cause hepatitis?

Chronic use of cytochrome P450 enzymes in metabolising alcohol can generate oxygen free radicals, which can cause mitochondrial injury and inflammatory changes


How can chronic alcohol abuse cause cirrhosis?

If the inflammation persists, fibroblasts could be recruited, which lay down connective tissue and cause cirrhosis