20 november 2023

Inhibition of ALDH2 by quercetin glucuronide suggests a new hypothesis to explain red wine headaches

The consumption of red wine induces headaches in some subjects who can drink other alcoholic beverages without suffering. The cause for this effect has been attributed to a number of components, often the high level of phenolics in red wine, but a mechanism has been elusive. Some alcohol consumers exhibit flushing and experience headaches, and this is attributed to a dysfunctional ALDH2 variant, the enzyme that metabolizes acetaldehyde, allowing it to accumulate. Red wine contains much higher levels of quercetin and its glycosides than white wine or other alcoholic beverages. We show that quercetin-3-glucuronide, a typical circulating quercetin metabolite, inhibits ALDH2 with an IC(50) of 9.6 microM. Consumption of red wine has been reported to result in comparable levels in circulation. Thus, we propose that quercetin-3-glucoronide, derived from the various forms of quercetin in red wines inhibits ALDH2, resulting in elevated acetaldehyde levels, and the subsequent appearance of headaches in susceptible subjects. Human-subject testing is needed to test this hypothesis.

Additional Info

  • Authors

    Devi A.; Levin M.; Waterhouse A. L.
  • Issue

    Periodical: Sci Rep - Volume: 13 - Number: 1 - Edition: 20231120
  • Published Date

    20 november 2023