Chronic alcohol intake is considered as an independent lifestyle factor that may influence the risk of a number of cardiovascular anomalies including hypertension. In healthy adults, binge drinking and chronic alcohol ingestion lead to the onset and development of hypertension although the precise mechanism(s) remains obscure. Although oxidative stress and endothelial injury have been postulated to play a major contributing role to alcoholism-induced hypertension, recent evidence depicted a rather unique role for the genotype of the acetaldehyde-metabolizing enzyme mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2), which is mainly responsible for detoxifying ethanol consumed, in alcoholism-induced elevation of blood pressure. Genetic polymorphism of ALDH2 in human results in altered ethanol pharmacokinetic properties and ethanol metabolism, leading to accumulation of the ethanol metabolite acetaldehyde following alcohol intake. The unfavorable consequence of the ALDH2 variants is believed to be governed by the accumulation of the ethanol metabolite acetaldehyde. Presence of the mutant or inactive ALDH2*2 gene often results in an increased risk of hypertension in human. Such association between blood pressure and ALDH2 enzymatic activity may be affected by the interplay between gene and environment, such as life style and ethnicity. The aim of this mini-review is to summarize the possible contribution of ALDH2 genetic polymorphism in the onset and development of alcoholism-related development of hypertension. Furthermore, the double-edged sword of ALDH2 gene and genetic polymorphism in alcoholism and alcoholic tissue damage and relevant patents will be discussed.
Keywords: Acetaldehyde, alcohol, cardiovascular complications, hypertension, metabolism, mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase.
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