Implications of ER stress, the unfolded protein response, and pro- and anti-apoptotic protein fingerprints in human monocyte-derived dendritic cells treated with alcohol

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2010 Dec;34(12):2081-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2010.01304.x. Epub 2010 Sep 22.


Background: Dendritic cells (DCs) are responsible for the activation of T cells and B cells. There is accumulating evidence that psychoactive substances such as alcohol can affect immune responses. We hypothesize that this occurs by modulating changes in proteins triggering a process known as unfolded protein response (UPR). This process protects cells from the toxic effects of misfolded proteins responsible for causing endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress. Although much is known about ER stress, little is understood about the consequences of ethanol use on DC's protein expression.

Methods: In this study, we investigated alterations in the proteins of human monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MDDC) treated with 0.1% of alcohol by two-dimensional (2D) gel electrophoresis followed by liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry, protein identification, and confirmation at the gene expression level by qRT-PCR.

Results: Proteomes of related samples demonstrated 32 differentially expressed proteins that had a 2-fold or greater change in expression (18 spots were up-regulated and 14 were down-regulated), compared to the control cultures (untreated cells). Alcohol significantly changed the expression of several components of the UPR stress-induced pathways that include chaperones, ER stress, antioxidant enzymes, proteases, alcohol dehydrogenase, cytoskeletal and apoptosis-regulating proteins. qRT-PCR analyses highlighted the enhanced expression of UPR and antioxidant genes that increased (18 hours) with alcohol treatment.

Conclusion: Results of these analyses provide insights into alcohol mechanisms of regulating DC and suggest that alcohol induced specifically the UPR in DC. We speculate that activation of a UPR by alcohol may protect the DC from oxidant injury but may lead to the development of alcohol-related diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendritic Cells / drug effects
  • Dendritic Cells / metabolism*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / drug effects
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism*
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Proteome / drug effects
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects*
  • Unfolded Protein Response / drug effects*


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Proteome
  • Ethanol