The dose dependence of the acute effects of ethanol upon liver intermediary metabolism in vivo has been demonstrated in rats. Ethanol was given i.p. in doses of 0.69, 1.7, and 3.0 g/kg in equal volumes (20 ml/kg). The liver was freeze-clamped 120 min after injection, and multiple metabolites were measured in the perchloric acid extract of the tissue. Each group showed a significantly different pattern of metabolites, redox states, and phosphorylation potentials although the rate of ethanol disappearance, at least between the two highest dose groups, was not significantly different. The mitochondrial free [NAD+]/[NADH] ratios and the cytoplasmic free [NADP+]/[NADPH] ratio were paradoxically most reduced with the lowest dose of ethanol and became progressively more oxidized with increasing dose. Once established, the differences in these ratios between the groups tended to persist with time, relatively independent of the concentration of ethanol. In a somewhat different pattern, the phosphorylation potential ([ATP]/[ADP][P1]) remained at the control level in the low-dose group but was significantly elevated in the two higher-dose groups. The results, therefore, show distinct and complicated dose-dependent patterns of intermediary metabolism that cannot be explained completely by any one hypothesis but that imply significant dose-dependent effects of ethanol upon intermediary metabolism not directly related to NADH production.
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