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J Stud Alcohol. 1992 May;53(3):277-80.

Ethanol inhibits interferon-gamma secretion by human peripheral lymphocytes.

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II. Medizinische Klinik und Poliklinik Technischen Universit√§t M√ľnchen, Federal Republic of Germany.


Clinical and epidemiological evidence exists that subjects who chronically abuse alcohol are disposed to infections and certain types of cancer. In vitro inhibition of mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation has been shown suggesting a direct immunosuppressive effect of ethanol. Using human peripheral blood mononuclear cells we could demonstrate in vitro for the first time that even low ethanol concentrations of 6 and 12.5 mM significantly inhibit spontaneous and mitogen-induced secretion of interferon-gamma. This effect was more pronounced with lower mitogen stimulation and it increased in a dose dependent manner when higher ethanol concentrations were used. Inhibition of cell proliferation as measured by 3H-thymidine incorporation did not parallel the inhibition of interferon-gamma secretion. As this lymphokine exerts a great number of immunostimulating effects, diminished secretion might well contribute to the immune defect observed in alcoholics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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