Objective: To investigate whether the daily intake of red wine (RW) at a dose which inversely correlates with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk modulates immune functions in healthy men.
Design: Randomized single-blind trial with four intervention periods.
Setting: The Institute of Nutritional Physiology, Federal Research Centre for Nutrition, Karlsruhe, Germany.
Subjects: A total of 24 healthy males with moderate alcohol consumption patterns were recruited and all completed the study.
Intervention: Participants consumed 500 ml of RW (12% ethanol (ETOH)) or 500 ml of a 12% ETOH dilution per day for a period of 2 weeks. To control the potential effects of RW polyphenols, accordingly 500 ml/day of dealcoholized red wine (DRW) and of red grape juice (RGJ) were given. The following immune parameters were measured before beverage consumption and at 1 and 2 weeks following beverage consumption: phagocytic activity of neutrophils and monocytes, production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha), interleukin-2 and -4, transforming growth factor-beta, TNFalpha mRNA, lymphocyte proliferation, lytic activity of natural killer cells, and percentage of apoptotic lymphocytes.
Results: Consumption of a moderate volume of alcohol with RW and with a 12% ETOH dilution had no effect on immune functions in healthy males. Consumption of polyphenol-rich beverages (DRW and RGJ) did not affect immunity-related parameters.
Conclusions: Daily moderate consumption of alcohol and of RW for 2 weeks at doses which inversely correlate with CVD risk has no adverse effects on human immune cell functions. Polyphenol-rich beverages such as RGJ and DRW further do not suppress immune responses in healthy men.