Alcohol Misuse and Kidney Injury: Epidemiological Evidence and Potential Mechanisms

Alcohol Res. 2017;38(2):283-288.

Abstract

Chronic alcohol consumption is a well-known risk factor for tissue injury. The link between alcohol use disorder (AUD) and kidney injury is intriguing but controversial, and the molecular mechanisms by which alcohol may damage the kidneys are poorly understood. Epidemiological studies attempting to link AUD and kidney disease are, to date, inconclusive, and there is little experimental evidence directly linking alcohol consumption to kidney injury. However, studies conducted primarily in other organs and tissues suggest several possible mechanisms by which alcohol may promote kidney dysfunction. One possible mechanism is oxidative stress resulting from increased production of reactive oxygen species, which leads to an excessive amount of free radicals, which in turn trigger tissue injury and increase inflammation. In addition, AUD's effect on other major organs (liver, heart, intestines, and skeletal muscle) appears to promote unfavorable pathological processes that are harmful to the kidneys. Notably, these mechanisms have not yet been validated experimentally in the kidney. Additional research is needed to clarify if alcohol does indeed promote kidney injury and the mechanisms by which alcohol-induced kidney injury may occur.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / complications*
  • Animals
  • Ethanol / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / chemically induced*
  • Kidney Diseases / immunology
  • Kidney Diseases / metabolism
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology

Substances

  • Ethanol