Objective: To assess whether an association exists between moderate alcohol consumption and plasma concentration of endogenous tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA), a serine protease that plays a central role in the regulation of intravascular fibrinolysis.
Design: Survey of self-reported alcohol consumption and plasma fibrinolytic capacity, controlled for lipid and nonlipid cardiac risk factors.
Setting: Participants in the Physicians' Health Study.
Participants: A total of 631 apparently healthy male physicians aged 40 to 84 years with no history of myocardial infarction, stroke, or transient cerebral ischemia.
Main outcome measure: Plasma concentration of t-PA antigen.
Results: A direct association was found between alcohol consumption and plasma level of t-PA antigen, such that mean plasma levels of t-PA antigen for daily, weekly, monthly, and rare or never drinkers were 10.9, 9.7, 9.1, and 8.1 ng/mL, respectively (P trend = .0002). The relation between alcohol consumption and t-PA antigen level was not materially changed in analyses that adjusted for total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol or nonlipid cardiovascular risk factors including age, body mass index, parental history of coronary heart disease, exercise frequency, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Conclusions: These data indicate a positive association between moderate alcohol intake and plasma level of endogenous t-PA antigen that is independent of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. This finding supports the hypothesis that changes in fibrinolytic potential may be an important mechanism whereby moderate alcohol consumption decreases risk of heart disease.