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J Leukoc Biol. 2006 May;79(5):941-53. Epub 2006 Feb 14.

Ethanol affects the generation, cosignaling molecule expression, and function of plasmacytoid and myeloid dendritic cell subsets in vitro and in vivo.

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Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


The influence of ethanol (EtOH) on multiple dendritic cell (DC) subsets, in the steady state or following their mobilization in vivo, has not been characterized. Herein, generation of mouse bone marrow-derived DC (BMDC) in response to fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 ligand was inhibited by physiologically relevant concentrations of EtOH with selective suppression of plasmacytoid (p)DC. EtOH reduced surface expression of costimulatory molecules (CD40, CD80, CD86) but not that of coinhibitory CD274 (B7-H1) on resting or CpG-stimulated DC subsets. Interleukin (IL)-12p70 production by activated DC was impaired. Consistent with these findings, EtOH-exposed BMDC exhibited a reduced capacity to induce naïve, allogeneic T cell proliferation and impaired ability to prime T cells in vivo. DC subsets freshly isolated from EtOH-fed mice were also examined. Liver DC, inherently immature and resistant to maturation, exhibited little change in their low surface cosignaling molecule expression, whereas splenic DC showed reduced expression of surface costimulatory molecules in response to CpG stimulation in vivo. These splenic DC elicited reduced naïve, allogeneic T cell proliferation in vitro, and the stimulatory capacity of resting but not CpG-activated liver DC was reduced by chronic EtOH administration. T cells from animals primed with EtOH-exposed DC produced elevated levels of IL-10 following ex vivo challenge with donor alloantigen. Thus, EtOH impairs cytokine-driven differentiation and function of myeloid DC and pDC in vitro. Hepatic DC from chronic EtOH-fed mice are less affected than splenic DC, which exhibit impaired functional maturation following CpG stimulation. These results indicate a potential mechanism by which alcohol consumption is associated with immunosuppression.

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