Modulation of Ethanol-Metabolizing Enzymes by Developmental Lead Exposure: Effects in Voluntary Ethanol Consumption

  • Virgolini M
  • Mattalloni M
  • Albrecht P
  • et al.
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© 2017 Virgolini, Mattalloni, Albrecht, Deza-Ponzio and Cancela. This review article provides evidence of the impact of the environmental contaminant lead (Pb) on the pattern of the motivational effects of ethanol (EtOH). To find a mechanism that explains this interaction, the focus of this review article is on central EtOH metabolism and the participating enzymes, as key factors in the modulation of brain acetaldehyde (ACD) accumulation and resulting effect on EtOH intake. Catalase (CAT) seems a good candidate for the shared mechanism between Pb and EtOH due to both its antioxidant and its brain EtOH-metabolizing properties. CAT overactivation was reported to increase EtOH consumption, while CAT blockade reduced it, and both scenarios were modified by Pb exposure, probably as the result of elevated brain and blood CAT activity. Likewise, the motivational effects of EtOH were enhanced when brain ACD metabolism was prevented by ALDH2 inhibition, even in the Pb animals that evidenced reduced brain ALDH2 activity after chronic EtOH intake. Overall, these results suggest that brain EtOH metabolizing enzymes are modulated by Pb exposure with resultant central ACD accumulation and a prevalence of the reinforcing effects of the metabolite in brain against the aversive peripheral ACD accumulation. They also support the idea that early exposure to an environmental contaminant, even at low doses, predisposes at a later age to differential reactivity to challenging events, increasing, in this case, vulnerability to acquiring addictive behaviors, including excessive EtOH intake.




Virgolini, M. B., Mattalloni, M. S., Albrecht, P. A., Deza-Ponzio, R., & Cancela, L. M. (2017). Modulation of Ethanol-Metabolizing Enzymes by Developmental Lead Exposure: Effects in Voluntary Ethanol Consumption. Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, 11.

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