Immune measures in alcohol-dependent persons with minor health abnormalities

Steven J. Schleifer, Tonya Benton, Steven E. Keller, Yesh Dhaibar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Altered immunity is commonly associated with alcoholism. However, few studies have contrasted alcoholism per se with effects of the medical sequelae or comorbidities of alcoholism on the immune system. We previously found few differences in lymphocyte subsets, mitogen response, granulocytic phagocytosis, or natural killer cell activity when we compared healthy urban alcohol-dependent individuals with community control subjects. To begin to explore the role of medical factors, 11 alcohol-dependent persons derived from the same clinical population but showing mild medical abnormalities (AMMAs), primarily abnormal liver function test results, were compared with the previously described 44 alcohol-dependent persons without medical dysfunctions and 34 nonabusing community persons. The AMMAs had lower numbers of CD45RA + inducer-suppressor/naive cells (P < .02) and HLA-DR+-activated T cells (P < .04) compared with findings for nonabusers and higher percentages of circulating CD56 + natural killer cells (P <.03). Mitogen responses to concanavalin A, phytohemagglutinin, and pokeweed mitogen; natural killer cell activity; and granulocyte functions did not differ across groups. The AMMAs reported higher alcohol consumption than that reported by the other groups. The findings seem to indicate that mild medical conditions, or conditions linked to abnormal liver function test results, are associated with some of the immune alterations reported in alcohol-dependent persons. Immune changes, even among chronically alcohol-dependent persons, may occur along a continuum associated with total alcohol exposure and intercurrent physiologic abnormalities. Clinical studies may need to control for such mild abnormalities when investigating alcohol-immune relationships, and clinical interventions may be especially important for alcohol-dependent individuals who show early signs of compromised health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-41
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Biochemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Neurology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


  • Alcohol
  • Dependence
  • Immunity
  • Liver dysfunction
  • Lymphocytes
  • Medical disorders
  • Mitogens
  • NK cells
  • Phagocytosis

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