Sex differences in alcohol dehydrogenase levels (ADH) and blood ethanol concentration (BEC) in Japanese quail

Shannon E. Eaton, Julia E. Jagielo-Miller, Mark A. Prendergast, Chana K. Akins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Ethanol is one of the most widely used and abused drugs. Following ethanol consumption, ethanol enters the bloodstream from the small intestine where it gets distributed to peripheral tissues. In the bloodstream, ethanol is cleared from the system by the liver. The primary metabolism of ethanol uses alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH). In mammals, females appear to have higher ADH activity in liver samples than males. The purpose of the first experiment was to analyze sex differences in ADH levels following 12 d of ethanol administration (i.e., water or 2 g/kg) in male and female quail. Following the last daily treatment of ethanol, quail were euthanized, their livers were extracted, and ADH was analyzed in liver homogenate samples. Results showed that female quail had higher ADH levels, heavier livers, and a greater liver to body weight ratio than male quail. In a second experiment, we aimed to develop a blood ethanol concentration (BEC) profile for both male and female quail. Quail were administered 0.75 or 2 g/kg of ethanol and blood was collected at 0.5, 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 12, 24 h after gavage administration. Blood ethanol concentration was analyzed using an Analox. We found that quail had a fairly rapid increase in BECs followed by a steady and slow disappearance of ethanol from the blood samples. Female quail had a lower peak of ethanol concentration and a smaller area under the curve (AUC) than male quail. The current research suggests that higher ADH levels in female quail may be responsible for increased metabolism of ethanol. In general, quail appear to eliminate ethanol more slowly than rodents. Thus, as a model, they may allow for a prolonged window with which to investigate the effects of ethanol.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101790
JournalPoultry Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [ T32 AA027488,2019-2021, awarded to SEE ]. The funding source was not involved in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; nor in the decision to submit the article for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors


  • alcohol
  • alcohol dehydrogenase
  • blood ethanol concentration
  • quail
  • rate of absorption
  • rate of disappearance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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