Cytokines in alcoholic liver disease

Semin Liver Dis. 1999;19(2):205-19. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-1007110.


Cytokines are low-molecular-weight mediators of cellular communication produced by multiple cell types in the liver, with the Kupffer cell critically important. Inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor, interleukin-1, and interleukin-8, and hepatic acute-phase cytokines such as interleukin-6 play a role in modulating certain metabolic complications in alcoholic liver disease and probably play a role in the liver injury of alcoholic liver disease. Two potential inducers of cytokine production in alcoholic liver disease are endotoxin and reactive oxygen species generated after ethanol metabolism. Cytotoxic cytokines likely induce liver cell death by both necrosis and apoptosis in alcoholic liver disease. Anticytokine therapy has been highly successful in attenuating cell injury/death in a variety of toxin-induced models of liver injury, including alcohol-related liver injury. Anticytokine therapy has been used successfully in humans in disease processes such as Crohn's disease and rheumatoid arthritis. There is an emerging rationale for use of anticytokine therapy in alcoholic liver disease, with the goal of maintaining beneficial effects of cytokines and inhibition of the deleterious effects of these potentially toxic agents.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anorexia / etiology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Cytokines / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / immunology*
  • Liver Diseases, Alcoholic / metabolism


  • Cytokines