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Med Mal Infect. 2006 Feb;36(2):72-7. Epub 2006 Jan 18.

The effects of alcohol on immunity and bacterial infection in the lung.

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Section of Pulmonary/Critical Care Medicine and Alcohol Research Center, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, 1901 Perdido St., Suite 3205, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA.


When faced with invading pathogens that can lead to infection, patients must mount an effective and appropriate immune response. Altered immune function in patients who abuse alcohol has long been described in the medical literature. The alcohol-consuming host is particularly prone to infections in the lung, including bacterial pneumonia and tuberculosis. Over the last several decades, there has been increased interest in the immune mechanisms that underlie the increased risk of infection observed in this population. This article will review the basic immunology involved in the host response to an infection and then describe how alcohol disrupts many of these immune mechanisms. It will further provide an overview of lung infections which have been linked to alcohol abuse, and finally, it will address the evolving therapeutic approaches of the immune system that are being advanced to assist in caring for immunosuppressed hosts.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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