Published online Mar 14, 2009. doi: 10.3748/wjg.15.1163
Revised: February 16, 2009
Accepted: February 23, 2009
Published online: March 14, 2009
Alcohol ingestion causes alteration in several cellular mechanisms, and leads to inflammation, apoptosis, immunological response defects, and fibrosis. These phenomena are associated with significant changes in the epigenetic mechanisms, and subsequently, to liver cell memory. The ubiquitin-proteasome pathway is one of the vital pathways in the cell that becomes dysfunctionial as a result of chronic ethanol consumption. Inhibition of the proteasome activity in the nucleus causes changes in the turnover of transcriptional factors, histone modifying enzymes, and therefore, affects epigenetic mechanisms. Alcohol consumption has been associated with an increase in histone acetylation and a decrease in histone methylation, which leads to gene expression changes. DNA and histone modifications that result from ethanol-induced proteasome inhibition are key players in regulating gene expression, especially genes involved in the cell cycle, immunological responses, and metabolism of ethanol. The present review highlights the consequences of ethanol-induced proteasome inhibition in the nucleus of liver cells that are chronically exposed to ethanol.