Alcohol myopathy: Impairment of protein synthesis and translation initiation

Charles H. Lang, Scot R. Kimball, Robert A. Frost, Thomas C. Vary

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Alcohol consumption leads to numerous morphological, biochemical and functional changes in skeletal and cardiac muscle. One such change observed in both tissues after either acute alcohol intoxication or chronic alcohol consumption is a characteristic decrease in the rate of protein synthesis. A decrease in translation efficiency appears to be responsible for at least part of the reduction. This review highlights advances in determining the molecular mechanisms by which alcohol impairs protein synthesis and places these observations in context of earlier studies on alcoholic myopathy. Both acute and chronic alcohol administration impairs translational control by modulating various aspects of peptide-chain initiation. Moreover, this alcohol-induced impairment in initiation is associated with a decreased availability of eukaryotic initiation factor (eIF) 4E in striated muscle, as evidenced by an increase in the amount of the inactive eIF4E·4E-BP1 complex and decrease in the active eIF4E·eIF4G complex. In contrast, alcohol does not produce consistent alterations in the control of translation initiation by the eIF2 system. The etiology of these changes remain unresolved. However, defects in the availability or effectiveness of various anabolic hormones, particularly insulin-like growth factor-I, are consistent with the alcohol-induced decrease in protein synthesis and translation initiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-473
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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