Diet and Ethanol Modulate Immune Responses in Young C57BL/6 Mice

Bernhard Watzl, Maria Lopez, Masoud Shahbazian, Guanjie Chen, Lucas L. Colombo, Dennis Huang, Dennis Way, Ronald R. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Chronic ethanol (ETOH) ingestion adversely affects the immunocompetence of alcohol abusers. ETOH directly impairs host defense mechanisms and indirectly modulates immunocompetence by interfering with the nutritional status of the alcoholic. It is not clear from the current literature, however, to what extent ETOH, nutritional status, or the combination of the two factors modulates immune mechanisms in chronic alcoholics. To date, most animal studies investigating the immunotoxicity of ETOH have neglected the dietary factors, which may have masked additional immunotoxic effects of ETOH. To examine these dietary factors, we fed mice three liquid ETOH diets with different dietary sufficiencies for 7 weeks and investigated various immune responses. Spleen cell number and secretions of immunoreactive interleukin‐2 and tumor necrosis factor were totally independent of the diet, being affected only by ETOH. Body, spleen, and thymus weights, interferon‐γ secretion, and natural killer cell and phagocytic activities were modulated by ETOH as well as by diet. Natural killer cell and phagocytic activities were also directly affected by the nutritional quality of the diet. These results suggest that animal diets used in experimental studies of ETOH‐induced immunomodulation must be planned and controlled carefully in order to single out the direct effects that ETOH has on the host defense system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-630
Number of pages8
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1993


  • Ethanol
  • dAnimal Diets
  • dImmunocompetence
  • dMice
  • dNutritional Status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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