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Pathogenesis of alcoholic liver disease

Scott L Friedman, MD
Section Editor
Bruce A Runyon, MD
Deputy Editor
Kristen M Robson, MD, MBA, FACG


The pathogenesis of liver disease associated with alcohol ingestion is incompletely understood. What is known is that some patients who chronically abuse alcohol develop liver disease, primarily because the liver metabolizes the majority of ingested ethanol. Furthermore, the metabolism of ethanol is required for hepatic injury to occur, although variations in ethanol metabolism do not completely explain the variable susceptibility to alcoholic liver disease.

This topic review will focus on three issues related to the development of alcoholic liver disease:

The basic aspects of alcohol metabolism

The mechanisms that may be responsible for the development of hepatic disease

The factors that determine the frequency with which alcohol abuse leads to liver disease

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Aug 02, 2016.
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