2008 Volume 42 Issue 1 Pages 14-20
Alcohol abuse is known to cause an array of ethanol induced abnormalities in men but very few reports are available on the effect of alcohol in women. None of them discuss the effect of ethanol consumption on erythrocyte membrane. In the present study, erythrocytes in women who consume alcohol showed significant decrease in their ability to resist haemolysis with HPLC studies. Erythrocyte membrane indicates decreased phospholipid (p<0.05) levels, which increased the cholesterol/phospholipid ratio significantly (p<0.01) in women who consume alcohol. This can decrease the fluidity of membrane, which appears to be related to the effect of ethanol on erythrocyte membrane. Also the protection against exogenous and endogenous peroxides in the erythrocytes of alcoholic women is considerably affected due to decreased (p<0.05) activity of catalase, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase, protein–SH group and glutathione (GSH). Enhanced free radical generation induced oxidation of oxyHb to metHb in alcoholics. Increased methemoglobin leads to significant reduction in membrane GSH, which may cause protein thiol oxidation. Thus peroxidative damage to membrane lipids and oxidation of membrane protein thiols potentially harmful to membrane fluidity and flexibility is responsible for decreased resistance to haemolysis as demonstrated in women who consume alcohol.