Semin Liver Dis 2009; 29(2): 141-154
DOI: 10.1055/s-0029-1214370
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Oxidative Stress and Alcoholic Liver Disease

Defeng Wu1 , Arthur I. Cederbaum1
  • 1Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
22 April 2009 (online)


Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are highly reactive molecules that are naturally generated in small amounts during the body's metabolic reactions and can react with and damage complex cellular molecules such as lipids, proteins, or DNA. This review describes pathways involved in ROS formation, why ROS are toxic to cells, and how the liver protects itself against ROS. Acute and chronic ethanol treatment increases the production of ROS, lowers cellular antioxidant levels, and enhances oxidative stress in many tissues, especially the liver. Ethanol-induced oxidative stress plays a major role in the mechanisms by which ethanol produces liver injury. Many pathways play a key role in how ethanol induces oxidative stress. This review summarizes some of the leading pathways and discusses the evidence for their contribution to alcohol-induced liver injury.


Arthur I Cederbaum, Ph.D. 

Department of Pharmacology and Systems Therapeutics, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1603, New York, NY 10029