The1H-NMR-based metabolite profile of acute alcohol consumption: A metabolomics intervention study

Cindy Irwin, Mari Van Reenen, Shayne Mason, Lodewyk J. Mienie, Ron A. Wevers, Johan A. Westerhuis, Carolus J. Reinecke*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Metabolomics studies of disease conditions related to chronic alcohol consumption provide compelling evidence of several perturbed metabolic pathways underlying the pathophysiology of alcoholism. The objective of the present study was to utilize proton nuclear magnetic resonance (1H-NMR) spectroscopy metabolomics to study the holistic metabolic consequences of acute alcohol consumption in humans. The experimental design was a cross-over intervention study which included a number of substances to be consumed—alcohol, a nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) supplement, and a benzoic acid-containing flavoured water vehicle. The experimental subjects—24 healthy, moderate-drinking young men—each provided six hourly-collected urine samples for analysis. Complete data sets were obtained from 20 of the subjects and used for data generation, analysis and interpretation. The results from the NMR approach produced complex spectral data, which could be resolved sufficiently through the application of a combination of univariate and multivariate methods of statistical analysis. The metabolite profiles resulting from acute alcohol consumption indicated that alcohol-induced NAD+ depletion, and the production of an excessive amount of reducing equivalents, greatly perturbed the hepatocyte redox homeostasis, resulting in essentially three major metabolic disturbances—up-regulated lactic acid metabolism, down-regulated purine catabolism and osmoregulation. Of these, the urinary excretion of the osmolyte sorbitol proved to be novel, and suggests hepatocyte swelling due to ethanol influx following acute alcohol consumption. Time-dependent metabolomics investigations, using designed interventions, provide a way of interpreting the variation induced by the different factors of a designed experiment, thereby also giving methodological significance to this study. The outcomes of this approach have the potential to significantly advance our understanding of the serious impact of the pathophysiological perturbations which arise from the consumption of a single, large dose of alcohol—a simulation of a widespread, and mostly naive, social practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0196850
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2018
Externally publishedYes


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