The CYP2E1 gene codes for an enzyme involved in the metabolism of several important drugs as well as the conversion of ethanol to acetaldehyde. For example, acetaminophen (Tylenol) is one commonly used drug which is partially metabolized with this enzyme. CYP2E1 is also involved in the breakdown or activation of several anesthetics, as well as several industrial products including benzene and ethylene glycol.
CYP2E1 is also involved in alcohol metabolism. It is induced by ethanol, and variants of CYP2E1 may protect against alcohol-induced liver disease. Low levels of alcohol in occasional drinkers are metabolized through the ADH enzyme; higher levels of alcohol induce CYP2E1. [ref] In fact, research shows that it is the increased CYP2E1 that allows alcoholics to metabolize more alcohol. Nicotine also induces CYP2E1 in the brain and may link to increased alcohol metabolism in smokers who also drink a lot.[ref]
CYP2E1 is also involved in the metabolism of acrylamide, which is produced through the Maillard reaction when food is cooked. Examples of acrylamide formation in food would be in toast, french fries, potato chips, cookies, toasted breakfast cereal.
There are several variants of the CYP2E1 gene that are currently being studied. While these variants play a role in increasing or decreasing this enzyme, environmental factors such as alcohol usage may play a larger role for CYP2E1.
Check your genetic data for rs2031920 (23andMe v4, v5; AncestryDNA):
Check your genetic data for rs3813867 (23andMe v5; AncestryDNA)
Check your genetic data for rs6413419 (23andMev4, v5; AncestryDNA):
Check your genetic data for rs2070676 (23andMe rv4. v5):
(note: plus orientation)
This is part of an ongoing series on the genes involved in detoxification.