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Alcohol. 1994 Sep-Oct;11(5):361-5.

Chronic ethanol consumption prior to retrovirus infection alters cytokine production by thymocytes during murine AIDS.

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Nutritional Sciences Program, University of Arizona, Tucson 85724.


Chronic ethanol (EtOH) consumption may be a cofactor in the development of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). As the thymus is an unique site for T cell maturation, we investigated whether thymocytes from EtOH consuming mice were more predisposed to aberrant cytokine production due to retrovirus infection. Adult female C57BL/6 mice were fed 4.5% (v/v) in liquid diet or control liquid diet without EtOH for 10 weeks. All diets contained nutrients at only the recommended daily intake level for mice. Then all mice were infected LP-BM5 retrovirus and were fed control liquid diets without EtOH. The body and thymus weights were not affected by EtOH consumption. However, thymocyte number and proliferation, which had been reduced during murine AIDS, were significantly further reduced by EtOH use. The production of IL-2 and IL-6 by thymocytes, which was lessened during retrovirus infection, were significantly further suppressed by dietary EtOH at 6 weeks postinfection, whereas levels of IL-4 and IFN-gamma by thymocytes, which were elevated during retrovirus infection, were significantly and slightly further increased by EtOH-treated mice prior to retrovirus infection, respectively. These data suggest that dietary EtOH consumption can modulate cytokine production by thymocytes, adversely affecting T cell differentiation, especially during retrovirus infection. These results provide additional evidence that EtOH consumption should be a cofactor during development of AIDS via producing altered cytokine production and then disrupting T cell differentiation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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