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Diab Vasc Dis Res. 2008 Mar;5(1):48-53. doi: 10.3132/dvdr.2008.009.

Drinking modulates monocyte migration in healthy subjects: a randomised intervention study of water, ethanol, red wine and beer with or without alcohol.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine II, Cardiology, University of Ulm, Ulm, Medical Centre, Robert-Koch-Strasse 8, D-89081 Ulm, Germany.


Moderate alcohol consumption is associated with reduced cardiovascular mortality compared to non-consumption of alcohol and heavy drinking. Experimental data suggest a direct effect of alcohol on atherosclerotic lesion development. We assessed the effect of consumption of moderate amounts of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages on monocyte migration, a crucial step in atherogenesis. Forty-nine healthy men and women (aged 22-56 years) were enrolled in this randomised controlled trial. After wash-out, participants were assigned to either ethanol (concentration 12.5%), beer (5.6%) or red wine (12.5%) equivalent to 30 grams of ethanol per day (g/d) for men and 20 g/d for women, or to the same amount of de-alcoholised beer or red wine, or to water. Monocyte migration was evaluated ex vivo using a modified Boyden chamber. Intake of ethanol or de-alcoholised red wine significantly reduced monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1)-induced monocyte migration by 58% (p<0.05; n=6) and 36% (p<0.05; n=7) and FMLP (N-formyl-methionyl-leucyl-phenylalanine)-induced migration by 41% (p<0.05) and 36% (p<0.05), respectively. MCP-1 receptor expression was not affected by these interventions, as shown by flow cytometry. Short-term intervention with moderate amounts of ethanol and de-alcoholised red wine inhibits monocyte migration ex vivo. This might represent one mechanism by which alcoholic beverages lower cardiovascular risk.

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