Alcohol, host defence and society

Abstract

Impaired health caused by alcohol abuse has been known throughout recorded history. Over the past century, alcohol abuse has been clearly linked to host susceptibility to infectious disease, particularly bacterial pneumonia. Recently, both acute and chronic alcohol intake have been shown to result in specific defects in innate and adaptive immunity; these could, in principle, be subjected to specific modulation to overcome the immunosuppressive effects of the most commonly abused substance in the Western world.

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Figure 1: Biphasic effect of alcohol consumption on mortality.
Figure 2: Overview of alcohol abuse and the immune system.

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Author information

Correspondence to Jay K. Kolls.

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DATABASES

LocusLink

IκBα

IL-10

IL-17

interleukin-1β

liver mitochondrial aldehyde dehydrogenase 2

p55 TNF receptor

perforin

TACE

Toll-like receptor 4

TNF-α

 Emedicine

ARDS

alcohol psychosis

alcoholic polyneuropathy

bacterial pneumonia

chronic pancreatitis

cirrhosis

fetal alcohol syndrome

hepatitis C

oesophageal varices

FURTHER INFORMATION

Alcohol Education and Research Council

Educational Resources and Social Policy

Eurocare

Institute of Alcohol Studies

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Alcohol Research Center

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:

Thomas Jefferson University Alcohol Research Center

Glossary

ADULT RESPIRATORY DISTRESS SYNDROME

(ARDS). This disease is characterized by the acute onset of hypoxaemia, bilateral infiltrates on chest X-rays and no evidence of left ventricular heart failure. It can be precipitated by sepsis, pneumonia, surgery and/or trauma.

ALCOHOLIC LIVER DISEASE

A spectrum of entities including steatohepatitis, or lipid accumulation in the liver associated with ethanol abuse, alcoholic hepatitis, which is an acute inflammatory response in the liver associated with ethanol abuse, and cirrhosis.

BACTERIAL TRANSLOCATION

Transfer of bacteria or bacterial products from the lumen of the gastrointestinal tract to mesenteric lymph nodes and into the portal circulation.

CIRRHOSIS

Micro- or macronodular fibrosis in the liver, which can result from chronic alcohol abuse.

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