Alcohol and HIV Effects on the Immune System Alcohol Research: Current Reviews

AUD in the form of alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction are the most common and costly form of substance abuse in the United States and represent a global health problem. For PLWHA, rates of heavy drinking are even higher than those in the general population (Galvan et al. 2002). One study found that 82% of HIV-infected patients consumed alcohol, and half were classified as hazardous drinkers (Lefevre et al. 1995). Because AUD and HIV infection frequently coexist, studies have tried to understand the influence of alcohol consumption on the transmission and progression of HIV disease. For one, heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of HIV transmission through its propensity to increase the likelihood of risky sexual behavior, including unprotected sex with multiple partners (Rehm et al. 2012; Shuper et al. 2009; Stall et al. 1986).

On contrary to longstanding scientific belief, tissue macrophages originate from embryonic progenitor cells and not from circulatory monocytes [155]. Tissue macrophages are given different names indicating their resident tissue such as Kupffer cells in the liver, microglia in the brain tissue, Langerhans cell in the skin, or alveolar macrophages in the lungs [156]. The other prominent phagocytizing population, PMNs or simply neutrophils, usually not present in healthy tissue, are located in bone marrow as they survive only a few days once released into circulation [157]. Consequently, they are used clinically to characterize infection, as a rising leukocyte population in peripheral blood is a solid indicator for an ongoing immune reaction [158]. Dendritic cells, either classical dendritic cells or plasmacytoid dendritic cells, ingest pathogens mainly to produce antigens and present them to effector cells such as lymphocytes [159]. Molecular mechanisms of the dose-dependent effects of alcohol on the immune system and HPA regulation remain poorly understood due to a lack of systematic studies that examine the effect of multiple doses and different time courses.

How alcohol affects the innate immune system

5IgA is an antibody that plays a critical role in immune responses in the mucous membranes. These membranes line the body cavities exposed to the external environment (e.g., the GI tract, respiratory tract, nostrils, mouth, or eyelids) and therefore are likely to come in contact with outside pathogens. Despite these observations, which shed some light on alcohol’s effects on B-cells and their functions, some questions remain to be answered. For example, the acetaldehyde that is formed during alcohol metabolism can interact with other proteins in the cells, interfering with their function.

Reducing or quitting drinking can lower alcohol-related damage and improve your overall health. If you feel like you cannot control your drinking on your own, you may want to consider seeking addiction treatment. For example, depending on your level of alcohol use, quitting drinking does alcohol suppress immune system may help resolve the first stage of alcohol liver disease. If you are drinking a lot, stopping or decreasing your alcohol use can also help your chances of not developing severe liver disease. Chronic drinking — for 12 to 15 years — can lead to a reduction in the number of T cells.

Focus On: Alcohol and the Immune System

The researchers reported significant reductions in the TNF-α levels three and six hours after the alcohol consumption. Alcohol also causes damage to the cells in the outside layer of your stomach and intestines. As a result, bacteria may leak from the GI tract into your bloodstream, which can itself make you sick. Also, bacteria that escape this area can change the immune system in your liver, which can lead to inflammation and, potentially, alcoholic liver disease. Both HIV and alcohol increase susceptibility to opportunistic infections, in particular, infection with bacteria that cause pneumonia. Various types of Igs (e.g., IgA, IgG, IgM) are produced at different times during an infection or in response to a range of antigens that have specific roles in the adaptive immune response.

does alcohol suppress immune system

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