Daily moderate amounts of red wine or alcohol have no effect on the immune system of healthy men

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Jan;58(1):40-5. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601742.


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.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / immunology*
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Flavonoids / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Cellular / drug effects*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Phagocytosis / drug effects*
  • Phenols / administration & dosage
  • Polyphenols
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Wine*


  • Cytokines
  • Flavonoids
  • Phenols
  • Polyphenols