Alcohol, host defence and society

Nat Rev Immunol. 2002 Mar;2(3):205-9. doi: 10.1038/nri744.


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.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Alcoholism / immunology*
  • Alcoholism / mortality
  • Ethanol / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects*
  • Infections / etiology


  • Ethanol