• chronic alcoholics;
  • enzyme;
  • morphology;
  • small intestine


Background and Aim:  Alcohol-related diseases constitute the third largest health problem after heart disease and cancer in the world. The objective was to study the effects of chronic alcohol intake on small bowel cellular functions with focus on brush border enzymes, membrane enzymes, cellular enzymes and their relationship with structural changes in small bowel mucosa of chronic alcoholics.

Methods:  Duodenal biopsies were obtained by upper gastrointestinal endoscopy of chronic alcoholics having alcoholic liver disease (ALD) with and without cirrhosis. The biopsies were then processed for enzymatic assays to analyze the status of cellular functions. Light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and scanning electron microscopy were done to study the morphological alterations. Control group consisted of nonalcoholic gastroesophageal reflux disease patients reporting for routine endoscopy.

Results:  The experimental group consisted of ALD patients which showed significant difference (P < 0.01) in cellular functions when compared with controls. The light microscopy showed partial villous atrophy, increase in lamina propria infiltrate, and intraepithelial lymphocytes as main findings in the alcoholic group. Ultrastructural evaluation revealed changes like widened intercellular junction, distorted microvilli, increased rough endoplasmic reticulum, and increased and dilated mitochondria. The enzyme parameters correlated positively with the mucosal morphology parameters indicating a direct relationship.

Conclusion:  The study brought out the changes in small bowel of chronic alcoholics having ALD at both cellular and subcellular levels which correlated significantly.