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IDENTIFICATION AND CHARACTERISATION OF ALCOHOL-INDUCED FLUSHING IN CAUCASIAN SUBJECTS

ROBERTA J. WARD, ANDREW J. S. MCPHERSON, CARL CHOW, JOHN EALING, DAVID I. N. SHERMAN, A. YOSHIDA, TIMOTHY J. PETERS
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/ 433-438 First published online: 1 July 1994

Abstract

The prevalence of the alcohol-flushing reaction was assessed in a group of healthy Caucasian medical students (200) by self-reporting and was found to occur in approximately 50% of female and 8% of male subjects. In most of the alcohol flushers there were other family members similarly affected. The presence of this side-effect after a small quantity of alcohol did not necessarily decrease the amount of alcohol consumed. A test dose of ethanol (0.4 g/kg body weight) confirmed the presence of the alcohol-induced flushing, which was of much shorter duration and intensity than that of the Oriental alcohol-induced flusher, as measured by laser Doppler velocimetsy, and was not associated with high circulating concentrations of acetaldehyde. Topical administration of 5 M acetaldehyde showed an enhanced erythema in Caucasian flushers compared to non-flushing controls. This effect was not observed with topical ethanol. Low erythrocyte ALDH1 activity was found in all Caucasians (n = 30) who showed the alcohol-induced flushing reaction.