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Abstract

Chronic alcohol consumption is a well-known risk factor for hepatic injury, and mitochondrial damage plays a significant role in this process. Nitric oxide (NO) is an important modulator of mitochondrial function and is known to inhibit mitochondrial respiration. However, the impact of chronic alcohol consumption on NO-dependent control of liver mitochondrial function is unknown. This study examines the effect of alcohol exposure on liver mitochondria in a rat model and explores the interaction of NO and mitochondrial respiration in this context. Mitochondria were isolated from the liver of both control and ethanol-fed rats after 5 to 6 weeks of alcohol consumption. Mitochondria isolated from ethanol-treated rats showed a significant decrease in state 3 respiration and respiratory control ratio that was accompanied by an increased sensitivity to NO-dependent inhibition of respiration. In conclusion, we show that chronic alcohol consumption leads to increased sensitivity to the inhibition of respiration by NO. We propose that this results in a greater vulnerability to hypoxia and the development of alcohol-induced hepatotoxicity.