Immune Function in Alcoholism: A Controlled Study

Ziad Kronfol, Madhavan Nair, Elizabeth Hill, Philip Kroll, Kirk Brower, John Greden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Citations (Scopus)


Several studies have shown an increased risk for infection and cancer in alcoholic patients. The mechanisms for such observations remain largely unknown. In an effort to investigate the possibility of immunological dysfunction in alcoholism, we studied three immune parameters in 47 hospitalized chronic alcoholic patients and 47 age‐and sex‐matched normal controls. The immune measures were: (1) lymphocyte phenotyping, with estimates of percentages of T cells, B cells, T helpers, T suppressors, natural killer (NK) cells, and cells carrying the activation markers IL2R1 and l2; (2) NK cell activity; and (3) lymphokine‐activated killer cell activity. Results indicate a significant increase in the IL2R and l2 lymphocyte markers in alcoholic patients compared with matched controls. We also found a nonsignificant trend for a decrease in the percentage of suppressor T cells in the alcoholic group, as well as a trend for a negative correlation between the percentage of T suppressor cells and age. There were no significant differences in either NK or lymphokine‐activated killer cell activities between the two groups. Furthermore, there were no significant associations between duration and intensity of alcohol consumption and any of the immune measures. These results suggest subtle alterations in immune regulation in alcoholic patients that cannot be explained solely on the basis of duration and/or amount of alcohol consumed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-283
Number of pages5
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes



  • Alcohol
  • Immunity
  • Lymphocyte Phenotype
  • Lymphokine‐activated Killer Cytotoxicity
  • Natural Killer Cytotoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

Cite this