Synthesis of fatty acid ethyl esters in mammalian tissues after ethanol exposure: A systematic review of the literature

Irene Zelner, Jeremy N. Matlow, Aniket Natekar, Gideon Koren

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


The ability to undergo non-oxidative metabolism from ethanol to fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs) varies greatly among tissues and organs. To gain a greater understanding of non-oxidative ethanol metabolism to FAEE, we aimed to collect all published data on FAEE synthesis in mammalian organs and tissues to identify all tissues, organs, and enzymes that are known to, or likely possess FAEE-synthetic activity. A systematic search for relevant papers was performed and two independent reviewers examined potentially relevant abstracts (articles on FAEEs that pertain to ethanol exposure) to determine whether they met the inclusion criteria. Information on FAEE synthesis was retrieved from papers meeting the inclusion/exclusion criteria and summarized by organ/tissue/matrix examined. The systematic search through four databases yielded 78 articles that investigated FAEE synthesis by tissues, tissue fractions and cell lines, and 29 articles that attempted to purify and/or characterize the enzymes involved in FAEE synthesis. Two enzyme activities have been studied: FAEE synthase (FAEES, which conjugates ethanol and free fatty acid) and acyl-CoA: ethanol O-acyltransferase (AEAT, which conjugates ethanol and fatty acyl-CoA). Both activities are expressed by a variety of different enzymes. FAEES activity is the most widely studied and has been purified from several tissues and shown to be associated with several well-known enzymes, while the identity of enzymes possessing AEAT activity remains unknown. The organs and tissues that have been shown to synthesize FAEEs are discussed, with special emphasis on the studies that attempted to elucidate the enzymology of FAEE synthesis in those tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-299
Number of pages23
JournalDrug Metabolism Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Carboxylesterase
  • Ethanol
  • Fatty acid ethyl ester synthase
  • Lipase
  • Non-oxidative metabolism


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