Background/Purpose: Alcohol-induced oxidative stress is the result of the combined production of reactive oxygen species [ROS; e.g. malondialdehyde (MDA), an index of lipid peroxidation] and impairment of antioxidant defenses [e.g. superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and glutathione peroxidase (GPX), which are involved in the elimination of ROS]. Little is known about the oxidative stress markers among patients with alcohol dependence in Taiwan. This study aimed to investigate serial alterations of various oxidative stress markers during early detoxification in alcoholic patients. Methods: We enrolled 121 inpatients who fulfilled the DSM-IV-TR criteria for alcohol dependence, and 19 healthy controls. Fasting serum MDA level and antioxidant activity, including SOD, CAT and GPX, were measured at baseline in both groups, and after 1 and 2 weeks of detoxification in alcoholic patients. Results: MDA level in alcoholics was higher at baseline than in healthy controls. It decreased after 1 week of detoxification, and normalized at week 2. SOD and GPX activities remained significantly lower throughout the 2-week period. CAT activity in alcoholics was comparable to that in the controls at baseline, but decreased at week 1 of detoxification, and was significantly lower than that in the controls after 2 weeks. Moreover, baseline MDA level was correlated with baseline CAT activity in alcoholics; the magnitude of the decrease in MDA level was correlated with the decrease in CAT activity following the 1-week detoxification. Conclusion: The findings suggest severe oxidative stress and weakened antioxidant activity in alcoholic patients, and limited changes in oxidative stress in the early stages of alcohol withdrawal.
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