The effect of chronic ethanol feeding on hepatic mitochondrial morphology and histochemically measured succinic dehydrogenase activity was assessed. Five monkeys of the species Macaca radiata received a nutritionally adequate diet containing 50% of the calories as ethanol, while five others were pair‐fed the same diet except that ethanol was isocalorically substituted by carbohydrate. Liver morphology was assessed at 12 and 24 months and at sacrifice after 40 to 48 months of ethanol feeding. The ethanol‐fed animals developed mild to moderate fatty liver as did some of the controls. No necrosis or fibrosis developed. All ethanol‐fed animals developed centrilobolar mega‐mitochondria and centrilobular “shift” in histochemically assayed succinic dehydrogenase activity characteristic of animals fed ethanol for prolonged periods. These mitochondrial changes persisted throughout the 48‐month test period without progressive increase in severity or accompanying pathology. It is concluded that the morphologic and histochemically assessed mitochondrial changes do not necessarily represent a progressive destructive effect of ethanol.
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