Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Pyrazoles as inhibitors of alcohol oxidation and as important tools in alcohol research: an approach to therapy against methanol poisoning.

PMID 115004


4-Methylpyrazole, in a dose producing inhibition of alcohol dehydrogenase (alcohol:NAD(+) oxidoreductase, EC, was given alone or together with ethanol (10%) as sole drinking fluid to growing rats for up to 38 weeks. Their weight curves remained normal. Electron microscopy of liver, kidney, and heart revealed no changes related to treatment. Hematologic analysis showed normal values for blood and bone marrow. Several clinical chemical parameters showed no impairment of liver or kidney function, except for an enhancement of the microsomal drug-metabolizing activity after concurrent administration of 4-methylpyrazole and ethanol. A study on rats receiving 4-methylpyrazole and ethanol indicated a mutual interaction of the two compounds or the metabolites, leading to increased concentration in the blood of the compounds and reduced formation of 4-hydroxymethylpyrazole, the primary metabolite of 4-methylpyrazole. In monkeys, elimination of 4-methylpyrazole followed a linear course. 4-Hydroxymethylpyrazole accumulated to a level of at most 10% of that of 4-methylpyrazole. Concurrent administration of methanol inhibited the elimination of 4-methylpyrazole about 25%, and 4-methylpyrazole produced a profound inhibition of the oxidation of methanol. 4-Methylpyrazole, at a level in the plasma of more than 10 muM, prevented accumulation of the toxic metabolite formic acid in methanol-poisoned monkeys, and repeated injections of 4-methylpyrazole abolished methanol toxicity in monkeys receiving lethal doses of methanol. The present investigation indicates that 4-methylpyrazole, with its low toxicity and strong inhibition of alcohol oxidation, is a valuable tool for experimental studies of alcohol metabolism and its effects. It illustrates the usefulness of the monkey as a model to study 4-methylpyrazole activity and toxicity in light of its possible use for treating methanol poisoning in human beings.