1. Ethanol in the body is oxidized to acetaldehyde by liver alcohol
dehydrogenase (LADH). Other alcohols are also oxidized by LADH. For
example, methanol, which is mildly intoxicating, is oxidized by LADH to
the quite toxic product formaldehyde. The toxic effects of ingesting
methanol (a component of many commercial solvents) can be reduced by
administering ethanol. The ethanol acts as a competitive inhibitor of
the methanol by displacing it from LADH. This provides sufficient time
for the methanol to be harmlessly excreted by the kidneys. If an
individual has ingested 100 ml of methanol (a lethal dose), how much 100
proof whiskey (50% ethanol by volume) must be imbibed to reduce the
activity of the LADH towards methanol to 5% of its original value? The
adult human body contains ~40 liters of aqueous fluids throughout which
ingested alcohols are rapidly and uniformly mixed. The densities of
ethanol and methanol are both 0.79 g cm-3. Assume the Km values of LADH
for ethanol and methanol to be 1.0 x 10-3M and 1.0 10-2M, respectively,
and that KI = Km for ethanol.
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