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J Immunol. 2007 Feb 1;178(3):1243-9.

TLR4, ethanol, and lipid rafts: a new mechanism of ethanol action with implications for other receptor-mediated effects.

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University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01605, USA.


Ethanol (EtOH) is the most widely abused substance in the United States, and it contributes to well-documented harmful (at high dosages) and beneficial (at low dosages) changes in inflammatory and immune responses. Lipid rafts have been implicated in the regulation and activation of several important receptor complexes in the immune system, including the TLR4 complex. Many questions remain about the precise mechanisms by which rafts regulate the assembly of these receptor complexes. Results summarized in this review indicate that EtOH acts by altering the LPS-induced redistribution of components of the TLR4 complex within the lipid raft and that this is related to changes in actin cytoskeleton rearrangement, receptor clustering, and subsequent signaling. EtOH provides an example of an immunomodulatory drug that acts at least in part by modifying lipid rafts, and it could represent a model to probe the relationships between rafts, receptor complexes, and signaling.

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