Rats maintained for a period of 7 months on a fluid intake of 15 per cent alcohol and a diet marginal in lipotropic activity developed fatty infiltration and mild fibrosis of the liver. Similar changes were observed in pair-fed controls given an isocaloric equivalent of sucrose instead of alcohol, but not in pair-fed controls receiving neither alcohol nor sucrose supplements. To exclude the possibility that the alcohol effect was related to an augmentation of the caloric intake, a third group of controls was given the same amount of alcohol, but a limited number of calories. This was accomplished by subtracting from the basal diet an amount of sucrose equivalent in calories to the alcohol consumed. Under these conditions the hepatic changes following alcohol ingestion appeared to be enhanced. Choline or methionine, on the other hand, abolished the effects of both alcohol and sucrose supplements. There was no increase in fecal nitrogen excretion following alcohol ingestion, and no histological changes were observed in the pancreas.
These results are consistent with the hypothesis that alcohol increases the choline requirement of the rat, but do not support the contention that this effect is the consequence of an augmented caloric intake. Further studies are needed to establish conclusively the relationship between alcohol ingestion and the choline requirement, and to elucidate the mechanisms involved.