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Daily moderate amounts of red wine or alcohol have no effect on the immune system of healthy men

Abstract

Objective: To investigate whether the daily intake of red wine (RW) at a dose which inversely correlates with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk modulates immune functions in healthy men.

Design: Randomized single-blind trial with four intervention periods.

Setting: The Institute of Nutritional Physiology, Federal Research Centre for Nutrition, Karlsruhe, Germany.

Subjects: A total of 24 healthy males with moderate alcohol consumption patterns were recruited and all completed the study.

Interventions: Participants consumed 500 ml of RW (12% ethanol (ETOH)) or 500 ml of a 12% ETOH dilution per day for a period of 2 weeks. To control the potential effects of RW polyphenols, accordingly 500 ml/day of dealcoholized red wine (DRW) and of red grape juice (RGJ) were given. The following immune parameters were measured before beverage consumption and at 1 and 2 weeks following beverage consumption: phagocytic activity of neutrophils and monocytes, production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα), interleukin-2 and -4, transforming growth factor-β, TNFα mRNA, lymphocyte proliferation, lytic activity of natural killer cells, and percentage of apoptotic lymphocytes.

Results: Consumption of a moderate volume of alcohol with RW and with a 12% ETOH dilution had no effect on immune functions in healthy males. Consumption of polyphenol-rich beverages (DRW and RGJ) did not affect immunity-related parameters.

Conclusions: Daily moderate consumption of alcohol and of RW for 2 weeks at doses which inversely correlate with CVD risk has no adverse effects on human immune cell functions. Polyphenol-rich beverages such as RGJ and DRW further do not suppress immune responses in healthy men.

Sponsorship: The Federal Ministry of Consumer Protection, Food, and Agriculture, Germany.

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Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge the competent technical assistance of the IEP technicians and are indebted to all study participants for contributing continuously to this study.

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Authors and Affiliations

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Contributions

Guarantors: B Watzl and G Rechkemmer.

Contributors: BW, AB, and GR contributed to the study design. AB was responsible for the human intervention study. BW, GP, SR, and SWB supervised the assays and analyzed the data. BW drafted the first manuscript and edited the final draft of the manuscript with contributions of all the authors.

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Correspondence to B Watzl.

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Watzl, B., Bub, A., Pretzer, G. et al. Daily moderate amounts of red wine or alcohol have no effect on the immune system of healthy men. Eur J Clin Nutr 58, 40–45 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601742

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601742

Keywords

  • red wine
  • red grape juice
  • ethanol
  • anthocyanin
  • lymphocyte
  • immune system

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