Background: Chronic and excess ethanol exposure causes an increase in generation of free radicals which attack the polyunsaturated fatty acids in membranes to create lipid peroxides such as malondialdehyde (MDA) which is widely used as an indirect biomarker of oxidative stress.
Methods: In this study a sensitive and reproducible high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method for measurement of MDA was applied in a group of alcohol dependent patients who underwent detoxification treatment.
Results: Compared to the control group, mean MDA concentrations at baseline were significantly higher in alcohol dependent patients (1.28 ± 0.58 μM vs. 0.9 ± 0.21 μM; p < 0.02). However, MDA levels remained almost unchanged after three weeks of detoxification treatment (1.28 ± 0.58 μM vs. 1.38 ± 0.61 μM; p > 0.05). Among alcoholic patients, the MDA plasma concentration in smokers was higher than in non smokers both at baseline and after three weeks.
Conclusions: The failure to reduce the levels of MDA after 3 weeks of detoxification treatment suggests that patients with chronic alcohol dependence have difficulty in compensating for alcohol-induced excessive production of free radicals. Furthermore, the possibility of cigarette smoke affecting the MDA plasma concentration cannot be ruled out.