Effects of ethanol on cellular immunity to facultative intracellular bacteria

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1995 Feb;19(1):11-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.1995.tb01466.x.


Alcohol abuse has been associated with an increase in infectious diseases caused by pathogenic and opportunistic microorganisms. Study results obtained from this laboratory and other laboratories have shown that consumption of large amounts of ethanol is associated with numerous changes in the immune system. The purpose of this article is to report findings obtained from this laboratory, as well as review those obtained from other laboratories, from experiments designed to evaluate the effects of ethanol on various components of antimicrobial host-defense mechanisms. The effects of ethanol on various aspects of immunity obtained with the use of in vivo and in vitro model systems are reviewed as they pertain to antimicrobial defenses. All current data would support the suggestion that ethanol affects both the development of an antigen-specific immune response and the effector mechanisms of the cellular immune response. Findings obtained from animal models show that ethanol prevents the formation of granulomas in infected tissues, perhaps by inhibiting the response of macrophages to T-cell cytokines. Data obtained from this laboratory also support the suggestion that the inability of the immune system to control the intracellular growth of microorganisms results in an exaggerated inflammatory response that is responsible for at least a part of the tissue damage.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Infections / immunology*
  • Cytoplasm / immunology*
  • Cytoplasm / microbiology
  • Epitopes / immunology
  • Female
  • Immune Tolerance / immunology
  • Immunity, Cellular / immunology*
  • Listeria monocytogenes / immunology
  • Listeriosis / immunology
  • Macrophage Activation / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Salmonella Infections, Animal / immunology
  • Salmonella typhimurium / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / physiology


  • Epitopes
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha