The ability of human bone marrow cells to metabolise ethanol has been studied. After incubation of suspensions of bone marrow cells with [1–14C] ethanol (0.1 mg/ml) for 1.5 h, radioactivity was present in the evolved CO2 and in the cellular lipids. Only a part of the 14CO2 generated was dependent on the presence of contaminating blood cells in the marrow cell suspensions. These findings indicate that one or more cell types in the marrow are capable of oxidising ethanol to acetaldehyde and acetate. Our data raise the interesting possibility that the effects of chronic alcoholism on the bone marrow may not be caused by a direct action of ethanol, but may be related to some intracellular or extracellular changes resulting from the metabolism of ethanol within the marrow cells themselves.

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