Dopamine-related tetrahydroisoquinolines: significant urinary excretion by alcoholics after alcohol consumption

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Science  07 Dec 1979:
Vol. 206, Issue 4423, pp. 1184-1186
DOI: 10.1126/science.505002


Concentrations of dopamine-related tetrahydroisoquinolines (salsolinol and O-methylated salsolinol) were significantly higher in the daily urine samples of alcoholic subjects admitted for alcohol detoxification than in the daily urine samples of nonalcoholic control subjects. Salsolinol concentrations in alcoholic subjects appeared to drop to trace (control) values 2 to 3 days after admission, following the disappearance of ethanol and its reactive metabolite acetaldehyde from the blood. These results indicate that physiologically active tetrahydroisoquinolines increase in humans during long-term alcohol consumption, presumably because of acetaldehyde's direct condensation with catecholamines. The presence of these or similar condensation products in the urine could be useful as clinical indicators of prior blood acetaldehyde concentrations in chronic alcoholics.