Chlorpropamide alcohol flushing (CPAF) in non-insulin-dependent diabetics (NIDDs) has been reported to be associated with a lower tendency to develop late complications. The flush was thought to be mediated by enkephalins and prostaglandins. Early studies could not correlate CPAF to increased levels of acetaldehyde in blood and the flush was not regarded as an antabuse-like reaction.

In this study, the increase of plasma acetaldehyde during the flush in 13 CPAF positive diabetics was significantly (P < 0.005) higher than in 13 CPAF negative diabetics during a CPAF challenge test. The increase of plasma acetaldehyde was reduced to the level of CPAF negative diabetics in three CPAF positive diabetics when they were exposed to alcohol without premedication with chlorpropamide and they did not flush. The normal breakdown of ethanol to acetic acid via acetaldehyde appears to be inhibited by chlorpropamide in the flushers. Acetaldehyde measurement is an objective method to study the chlorpropamide alcohol flush and it appears superior to the measurement of skin temperature.

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