Alcohol consumption exerts toxic effects on the body with liver and brain as the major target organs. Recent studies suggest that alcohol-induced organ injury may involve organ-organ interactions. The most well-known mechanism underlying organ-organ interactions is gut-generated endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS) signal. Alcohol consumption causes gut barrier disruption, leading to endotoxemia, which, in turn, causes tissue injury at the liver-brain axis by stimulating cytokine production. Aldehyde generation is a feature of alcohol intoxication. While alcohol metabolism generates acetaldehyde, lipid peroxidation produces lipid aldehydes such as 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE) and malondialdehyde (MDA). Accumulation of aldehydes has been detected in intestinal contents, liver, blood and brain after alcohol intoxication. Aldehydes are cytotoxic, and may mediate alcohol actions at the gut-liver-brain axis. First, acetaldehyde generation from the gut microflora critically mediate alcohol-induced gut barrier disruption and generation of LPS signal. Second, aldehydes generated from the liver have shown to mediate alcohol-induced liver injury by inactivating proteins. Third, liver dysfunction in aldehyde clearance results in systemic aldehyde elevation, which may act as a systemic factor and mediate alcohol-induced brain damage. Aldehydes can be detoxified primarily by ALDH in the liver, however, our studies showed that mitochondrial ALDH (ALDH2) was not up-regulated in the liver despite aldehyde accumulation after chronic alcohol exposure. We also found that zinc supplementation attenuated alcohol-induced liver injury in association with up-regulation of ALDH2. Over-expression of ALDH2 has been shown to attenuate mitochondrial and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, thereby preventing alcohol-induced organs injury including liver and brain. This project will test our hypothesis that aldehydes critically mediate alcohol-induced cytotoxicity at the gut-liver-brain axis, thereby being a systemic factor in alcohol-induced pathogenesis.
Aim 1 is to define the role of microbiota aldehyde generation in alcohol-induced gut barrier disruption and generation of LPS signal. Effects of gut luminal aldehydes on gut tight junctions, blood LPS and liver-brain injury will be determined. Metabolic alterations in the gut luminal contents and epithelium will also be measured.
Aim 2 is to determine the significance of hepatic aldehyde generation in alcohol-induced liver injury. Effects of aldehydes on hepatic lipid homeostasis and pro-inflammatory cytokine production will be determined. Interaction between aldehydes and LPS in pro-inflammatory cytokine production will also be measured. Mechanistic link of aldehydes with alcohol-induced metabolomic and proteomic alterations in the liver will be identified.
Aim 3 is to determine the significance of liver-generated aldehyde signal in alcohol-induced brain injury. The link between liver dysfunction and systemic aldehyde elevation will be defined. The role of liver- generated aldehyde signal in alcohol-induced brain injury will be determined.
Aim 4 is to explore the molecular mechanism of aldehyde toxicity and aldehyde removal therapies. Formation of aldehyde-protein adducts at the gut-liver-brain axis will be identified. Effects of ALDH2-recombinant L. acidophilus, zinc and resveratrol on aldehyde clearance and alcohol-induced organ injury will be determined. PHS 398/2590 (Rev. 06/09) Page Continuation Format Page

Public Health Relevance

Alcohol intoxication causes multiple organ injury, but FDA-approved effective therapy is not available. Alcohol metabolism generates aldehydes which are cytotoxic. Aldehyde generation in the intestine disrupts gut barrier, leading to endotoxemia which triggers inflammation. Liver dysfunction in aldehyde clearance will cause aldehyde accumulation in the liver and blood, leading to multiple organ injury. This project will define the role of aldehyde as a systemic factor in mediating alcohol-induced tissue damage at the gut-liver-brain axis. The proposed research will not only advance our knowledge on alcohol-induced pathogenesis, but also suggest the removal of aldehydes as a potential therapeutic strategy for treatment of alcohol-induced diseases.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZAA1)
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Brooks, Pj
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University of North Carolina Greensboro
Schools of Arts and Sciences
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