[Moderate alcohol consumption and plasma concentration of sensitive markers of inflammation. Comment on an atheroprotective relationship]

Dtsch Med Wochenschr. 2003 Oct 24;128(43):2237-41. doi: 10.1055/s-2003-43101.
[Article in German]


Background and objective: Changes in lipoproteins and hemostasis only incompletely explain the reduced cardiovascular mortality associated with light to moderate alcohol consumption. Since increasing evidence suggests that atherosclerosis can be considered to be a chronic inflammatory process, we sought to assess the association between daily alcohol consumption and levels of sensitive markers of inflammation.

Study participants and methods: 478 voluntary blood donors (358 men, 120 women) aged 40 to 68 years were categorized into four groups according to their self-reported amount of daily alcohol consumption: 0 g/day, >0 - 20 g/day, >20 - 40 g/day, and > 40 g/day. Means of various sensitive markers of inflammation (C-reactive protein (CRP), serum amyloid A (SAA), interleukin-6 (IL-6), intercellular adhesion molecule-1, plasma viscosity und albumin) were calculated and compared by bivariate and multivariate analyses.

Results: More than 80 % of the study participants reported to consume alcohol, mainly beer. We found statistically significantly decreased levels of SAA, CRP, and plasma viscosity in subjects with light-to-moderate alcohol intake (>0 - 20 g/day and > 20 - 40 g/day, respectively), and a trend for increased levels of albumin in these subjects compared to non-drinkers. After multivariable adjustment for potential confounders (age, gender, body mass index, cigarette smoking, years of school education, and physical activity) a significant U-shaped association (p = 0.02) between levels of SAA and the amount of daily alcohol intake remained: there were 0.75 mg/l and 0.70 mg/l lower mean levels, respectively, of SAA in subjects with light-to-moderate alcohol intake compared to those of non-drinkers. Subjects with an alcohol intake of > 40 grams per day showed a statistically significant increase in levels of interleukin-6 (0.50 pg/ml) compared to non-drinkers.

Conclusion: Potential anti-inflammatory properties of moderate alcohol consumption might represent an additional mechanism to explain its atheroprotective effect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / blood*
  • Arteriosclerosis / blood
  • Arteriosclerosis / epidemiology
  • Arteriosclerosis / prevention & control*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Viscosity
  • C-Reactive Protein / analysis
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood*
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / blood
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Serum Albumin / analysis
  • Serum Amyloid A Protein / analysis


  • Biomarkers
  • Interleukin-6
  • Serum Albumin
  • Serum Amyloid A Protein
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1
  • C-Reactive Protein