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Review Article

ScienceAsia 14 (1988): 181-196 |doi: 10.2306/scienceasia1513-1874.1988.14.181





ABSTRACT: Chronic alcoholism is associated with osteopaenia and increased incidence of fracture while acute ethanol administration causes hypocalcaemia in experimental animals. The present paper discusses possible mechanisms by which ethanol may affect calcium metabolism, putting emphasis on the involvements of kidney, bone and intestine. Upon reviewing previous reports and our own investigations, we find that neither calcium regulating hormones, i.e., parathyroid hormone, calcitonin and 1, 25 dihydroxy vitamin D, nor kidney plays any crucial role in mediating the hypocalcaemic action of ethanol. On the other hand, chronic but not acute ethanol administration is reported to increase bone resorption, while the latter is found to suppress calcium efflux from bone. Most studies indicate that ethanol-induced hypocalcaemia can also be partly accounted for by the decrease in intestinal calcium absorption; the mechanisms involved are discussed.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Rama VI Road, Bangkok 10400, Thailand.

Received 11 August 1988