|MadSci Network: Medicine|
I've done some literature search on the excellent site NCBI-PUBMED which has an online search in abstracts from all medical or medical-related publications, journals and the like.
I found in an article from Deltour L, Ang HL and Duester G from The Burnham Institute, La Jolla, California some useful information. Published in FASEB Jul 1996 and with the title:
Ethanol inhibition of retinoic acid synthesis as a potential mechanism for fetal alcohol syndrome.
What they tell us is in short that there is a signal molecule retinoic acid (RA) which is important for correct embryonic development. This RA is produced from retinol. The speed determining step (oxidation) in this retinol -> RA transformation can be catalyzed by the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). No suprise is that alcohol (ethanol) is also a substrate for ADH and therefore ethanol can, when present in high concentrations, inhibit the retinol -> RA transformation.
The authors suggest that the effects seen in fetal alcohol syndrome are (at least partly) caused by inhibition of RA production. They also show results which support this hypothesis.
Regards, and don't drink too much
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