State the chemical reaction that took place in the patient's body and identify the substance produced in the liver that helps catalyze this reaction in the following case:
A 40-year-old manager, at a prominent legal firm in L.A., experiences abdominal pain post lunch. He goes to the restroom a couple of times, but continues to experience pain and cramps. He eventually decides to get himself examined. While questioning him, you learn that he consumed two bottles of beer at lunch. The alcohol (ethyl alcohol/ethanol) content in a 12 oz. bottle of beer is about 5%. The man's weight is 150 lbs and he was drinking over an hour period.
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The manager being referred to in the question had consumed two bottles of beer at lunch. Alcohol is metabolized in the body following one major pathway. It is first converted to acetaldehyde, then to acetate and finally to water and carbon dioxide in which form it can be expelled from the body.
The conversion of alcohol to acetaldehyde requires the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) which is produced in the liver. Acetaldehyde CH2CHO is a very poisonous substance that needs to be eliminated as soon as possible from the body. This is accomplished by converting it to acetate CH3COO-. The reaction for this conversion requires the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) which again is produced in the liver. Acetate is finally converted through other metabolic reactions to water and carbon dioxide.
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