Excess alcohol leads to mutations in the DNA

Scheme molecules of acetaldehyde; carbon atoms are marked with yellow, hydrogen — white, oxygen — red. (Figure Prof. K.Seddon & Dr. T.Evans, Queen's University Belfast.)

In our body turns ethanol into acetaldehyde, which behaves aggressively towards DNA. To protection from harmful substances genes faces two groups of proteins, one of which neutralizes itself acetaldehyde, the second deals with repairing damaged DNA.

How long a person familiar with the alcohol, alcohol is as diverse in its effects produced in the human body. No sooner had one group of researchers reported that alcohol does not kill brain cells, but only weakens the synaptic contacts between them, as scientists from the British Medical Research Council say something quite the opposite: alcohol is extremely damaging to cellular DNA.

As the researchers wrote in the journal Nature, acetaldehyde — a by-product of ethanol in the body — can lead to catastrophic failure of DNA. And we would die from the first glass, if the cells did not have a two-stage system of protection: the first step involves enzymes that neutralize acetaldehyde itself, the second — a set of proteins, who undertake emergency repairs to damaged DNA. Scientists have experimented with pregnant mice that had disabled both systems: in these animals, even a small one-time dose of alcohol resulted in the death of the fetus, and moreover, they themselves observed the death of adult mice blood stem cells.

Test the effect of alcohol on the DNA scientists led two groups of data. First, are extremely sensitive to alcohol people suffering from Fanconi's syndrome, a serious hereditary disease. These patients do not work the proteins responsible for DNA repair, so that acetaldehyde causes irreversible damage to genes, which leads blood diseases and cancer. On the other hand, people with congenital intolerance to alcohol is very prone to cancer of the esophagus, while they have no system works neutralize acetaldehyde. In both cases, the effects of alcohol expressed in diseases affecting molecular genetic apparatus of the cell.

Enzyme, deactivating acetaldehyde, and Fanconi proteins prevent DNA damage, which are at the basis of either cell death or degeneration of their cancer. However, regular use of alcohol can overcome the effect of these protective systems, which, unfortunately, often seen in the form of defects, collectively called fetal alcohol syndrome, which alcoholic parents reward their children.
Cyril Stasevich

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