Changes in the Human Metabolome Associated With Alcohol Use: A Review
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CitationVoutilainen, T. Kärkkäinen, O. (2019). Changes in the Human Metabolome Associated With Alcohol Use: A Review. Alcohol and alcoholism, 54 (3) , 225-234. 10.1093/alcalc/agz030.
The metabolome refers to the functional status of the cell, organ or the whole body. Metabolomic methods measure the metabolome (metabolite profile) which can be used to examine disease progression and treatment responses. Here, our aim was to review metabolomics studies examining effects of alcohol use in humans.
We performed a literature search using PubMed and Web of Science for reports on changes in the human metabolite profile associated with alcohol use; we found a total of 23 articles published before end of 2018.
Most studies had investigated plasma, serum or urine samples; only four studies had examined other sample types (liver, faeces and broncho-alveolar lavage fluid). Levels of 51 metabolites were altered in two or more of the reviewed studies. Alcohol use was associated with changes in the levels of lipids and amino acids. In general, levels of fatty acids, phosphatidylcholine diacyls and steroid metabolites tended to increase, whereas those of phosphatidylcholine acyl-alkyls and hydroxysphingomyelins declined. Common alterations in circulatory levels of amino acids included decreased levels of glutamine, and increased levels of tyrosine and alanine.
More studies, especially with a longitudinal study design, or using more varied sample materials (e.g. organs or saliva), are needed to clarify alcohol-induced diseases and alterations at a target organ level. Hopefully, this will lead to the discovery of new treatments, improved recognition of individuals at high risk and identification of those subjects who would benefit most from certain treatments.