BACKGROUND: Human colonic contents and many colonic microbes produce considerable amounts of acetaldehyde from ethanol in vitro. AIMS: To examine in piglets if acetaldehyde is produced in the colon also in vivo, and if so, what is the fate of intracolonically formed acetaldehyde. ANIMALS: Seventeen native, non-fasted female piglets (20-25 kg) were used. METHODS: Six piglets received either 1.5 g/kg bw or 2.5 g/kg bw of ethanol intravenously. In seven piglets, 0.7 g or 1.75 g of ethanol/kg bw was administered intravenously, followed by a subsequent intragastric ethanol infusion of 1.8 g/kg bw and 4.5 g/kg bw, respectively. The samples of colonic contents for the assessment of ethanol and acetaldehyde concentrations were obtained up to seven hours. In four additional piglets, the intracolonic values of ethanol, acetaldehyde, and acetate were observed for 60 minutes after an intracolonic infusion of acetaldehyde solution. RESULTS: A raised intracolonic, endogenous acetaldehyde concentration (mean (SEM); 36 (9) microM) was found in all piglets before ethanol infusion. After the infusion of ethanol, intracolonic ethanol and acetaldehyde values increased in parallel, reaching the peak values 57 (4) mM of ethanol and 271 (20) microM of acetaldehyde in the group that received the highest dose of ethanol. A positive correlation (r = 0.45; p < 0.001) was found between intracolonic ethanol and acetaldehyde values. Acetaldehyde administered intracolonically was mainly metabolised to acetate but also to ethanol in the colon. CONCLUSIONS: Significant endogenous intracolonic acetaldehyde values can be found in the normal porcine colon. Furthermore, our results suggest the existence of a bacteriocolonic pathway for ethanol oxidation. Increased amounts of acetaldehyde are formed intracolonically from ingested ethanol by this pathway.
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