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Alcohol Alcohol. 2004 Sep-Oct;39(5):386-92. Epub 2004 Aug 2.

Chronic alcoholism causes deleterious conditioning of innate immunity.

Author information

1
Department of Immunology, Medical Faculty, University of Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany. frankj@uni-greifswald.de

Abstract

AIMS:

To examine the immune consequences of chronic alcoholism in man, in relation to the known association between alcoholism and raised incidence and severity of infections.

METHODS:

In 36 alcoholics without liver disease, at the point of commencing withdrawal from alcohol, the following measures of immune competence were measured: the immunophenotypes of cells, acute phase proteins, the endotoxin-neutralizing capacity (ENC) of the serum, titers of anti-lipopolysaccharide (LPS) antibodies, and ex vivo cytokine inducibility in T cells and monocytes (TNFalpha, IL1beta, IL1RA, IL4, IL6, IL8, IL10 and IL12). The results were compared to those from healthy volunteers (day controls). Measures were repeated after 8-13 days of abstinence.

RESULTS:

LPS-binding protein (LBP) and soluble CD14 (sCD14) were significantly increased in patients' sera at the outset of withdrawal, whereas reduced titers of anti-LPS IgG (P = 0.012) and a reduced ENC (P = 0.001) were measured. Only ENC rapidly returned to normal values after withdrawal therapy. Cytokine induction with phorbol ester showed no significant alterations in patients' T cells. Patients' monocytes, however, responded to LPS stimulation with enhanced IL1beta-, but reduced TNFalpha- and IL12-production (P = 0.004, P = 0.0042 and P = 0.001, respectively). While IL1- and TNFalpha-responses normalized after the withdrawal period, impairment of the IL12 response persisted throughout the observation period of 2 weeks.

CONCLUSIONS:

Alcoholism results in a prolonged LPS-mediated hypoinflammatory conditioning of the innate but not the adaptive immune system, which is not reversed immediately after withdrawal. This alcohol-induced status of the immune system predisposes to infections and sepsis by blunting initial response to the pathogens.

PMID:
15289211
DOI:
10.1093/alcalc/agh083
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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