The jejunal uptake of labeled folic acid (3H-PGA) was measured in chronic alcoholic patients without definite liver disease. The intestine was perfused through a triple lumen tube with a solution containing 3H-PGA in a concentration of 25 ng per milliliter. Uptake was low in eight patients who gave a history of poor diet during the alcoholic binge that preceded admission (20.4 per cent ± 4.16 S.D.). A significantly greater value was obtained in nine abstinent subjects fed a hospital diet for two weeks (36.5 per cent ± 5.75). The subsequent administration of ethanol for two weeks to seven patients did not change the mean uptake of 3H-PGA (34.8 per cent ± 9.87). This study confirms that the absorption of folic acid is decreased in malnourished, actively drinking alcoholics. The data suggest that the functional defect is caused by poor nutrition rather than a toxic effect of ethanol on the jejunum.
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