Studies were made on the mechanism by which livers of ethanol-treated rats take up an increased fraction of the total flux of unesterified fatty acid in serum. It was found that ethanol (0.7g/kg) causes a twofold rise in the serum content of liver, and that this serum is in rapid equilibrium with the general circulation. The fractional hepatic uptake from serum of group of compounds with varying uptake mechanisms and metabolic fates was studied in control and ethanol-treated animals. All the compounds tested, including unesterified fatty acid, showed an enhanced uptake when ethanol was given. For one of the compounds, carbon tetrachloride, a dose/response relationship was established between the amount administered, the amount taken up by liver, and the amount metabolized. These findings were interpreted to mean that this dose of ethanol causes the liver to receive an increased flow of blood, and as a result all compounds present and capable of being taken by liver are taken up at an increased rate. Hepatic blood flow was measured by a technique that monitors the rate of clearance of a colloidal lipid emulsion. It was found that ethanol increased hepatic blood flow by about 60%. This effect of ethanol on hepatic blood flow provides an explanation for the fatty liver and the synergistic effect between an acute dose of ethanol and carbon tetrachloride. A hypothesis to explain why a moderate dose of ethanol causes triglyceride to accumulate in liver is presented.

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