Background and aim: Protection against coronary artery disease (CAD) by moderate alcohol consumption is thought to be partly mediated through an increase in high density lipoprotein (HDL) levels. The protective effect of HDL can be related to its role in reverse cholesterol transport. Some studies have shown that wine intake is associated with a lower CAD risk compared to other alcoholic beverages.
Methods and results: In order to separate the possible beneficial effects of the alcoholic and the non-alcoholic components of red wine, three beverages were compared in a group of 56 healthy young men: red wine (W) (30 g alcohol/day), a solution with the same degree of alcohol (A) and alcohol-free red wine (AFW). Beverages were consumed in random order over a period of 14 days. W significantly increased serum HDL-C, Apo A-I, HDL3-C, LpA-I and LpA-I:A-II particles. With A, only ApoA-I, HDL3-C, LpA-I:A-II were increased, though triglycerides were also increased. AFW had no effect apart from decreasing HDL-C. Plasma CETP was never altered. Serum-promoted cellular cholesterol efflux was measured on 3H labelled Fu5AH cells. Fractional cholesterol efflux was increased only after W intake, by 7%. Efflux variations correlated positively with HDL-C, HDL3-C and HDL-phospholipid variations.
Conclusions: A modest, specific beneficial effect of moderate red wine consumption was demonstrated in comparison to an alcoholic solution. This was due to its effects on lipoproteins and its stimulation of serum ability to induce efflux of cellular cholesterol.