Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Can a glass of wine a day keep the doctor away?

17.12.2013
UC Riverside-led team finds that moderate consumption of alcohol can improve immune response to vaccination

It's the time of year when many of us celebrate the holidays with festive foods and drinks, including alcohol. No better time then to ask if it is true, as is widely held, that moderate consumption of alcohol is beneficial to health.

A research team led by an immunologist at the University of California, Riverside now has data that could put the question to rest. The researchers found that moderate alcohol consumption could bolster our immune system, and potentially our ability to fight infections.

The finding, published Dec. 17 in the journal Vaccine, can help lead to a better understanding of how our immune system works. It can also pave the way for potentially new interventions to improve our ability to respond to vaccines and infections, benefiting vulnerable populations, such as the elderly for whom the flu vaccine, for example, has been found to be largely ineffective.

"It has been known for a long time that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with lower mortality," said Ilhem Messaoudi, an associate professor of biomedical sciences in the School of Medicine and the lead author of the research paper. "Our study, conducted on non-human primates, shows for the first time that voluntary moderate alcohol consumption boosts immune responses to vaccination."

Messaoudi did the bulk of the research while she was an assistant professor at the Oregon Health and Science University, where she collaborated with Kathleen Grant, a professor of behavioral neuroscience and a coauthor on the research paper. She joined UC Riverside earlier this year.

To study the impact of alcohol consumption on the immune system, the researchers trained 12 rhesus macaques to self-administer/consume alcohol on their own accord. The team first vaccinated the animals (against small pox) and then allowed them to access either 4 percent ethanol (the experimental group) or calorically matched sugar water (the control group). All the animals also had open access to water as an alternative fluid, as well as food. The researchers then proceeded to monitor the animals' daily ethanol consumption for 14 months. The animals were vaccinated one more time, seven months after the experiment began.

The research team found that over nine months of the animals' ethanol self-administration, mean daily ethanol intake varied markedly among them.

"Like humans, rhesus macaques showed highly variable drinking behavior," Messaoudi said. "Some animals drank large volumes of ethanol, while others drank in moderation."

The animals' voluntary ethanol consumption segregated them into two groups: animals in the first group were those that consumed more alcohol, averaged a blood ethanol concentration (BEC) greater than the legal limit of 0.08 percent and were therefore designated 'heavy drinkers'; animals in the second group consumed less alcohol, averaged a BEC of 0.02-0.04 percent and were designated 'moderate drinkers.'

"Prior to consuming alcohol, all the animals showed comparable responses to vaccination," Messaoudi said. "Following exposure to ethanol, however, the animals showed markedly different responses after receiving the booster vaccine."

The researchers found that, as expected based on human epidemiological data, those animals that drank the largest amounts of alcohol showed greatly diminished vaccine responses compared to the control group. In contrast, animals that drank moderate amounts of ethanol displayed enhanced vaccine responses.

"These surprising findings indicate that some of the beneficial effects of moderate amounts of alcohol consumption may be manifested through boosting the body's immune system," Messaoudi said. "This supports what has been widely believed for some time: moderate ethanol consumption results in a reduction in all causes of mortality, especially cardiovascular disease. As for excessive alcohol consumption, our study shows that it has a significant negative impact on health."

Alcohol abuse kills 25,000 Americans annually and is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the country. Two thirds of U.S. adults consume approximately four drinks a week, considered to be a moderate amount by most consumers.

"If you have a family history of alcohol abuse, or are at risk, or have been an abuser in the past, we are not recommending you go out and drink to improve your immune system!" Messaoudi said. "But for the average person that has, say, a glass of wine with dinner, it does seem, in general, to improve heath, and cardiovascular function in particular, and now we can add the immune system to that list."

The study was carried out under strict accordance with the recommendations outlined in the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals of the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Animal Welfare and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The study was also approved by the Oregon National Primate Research Center Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee.

"Next, we plan to harness our observations made in this study to address bigger questions on the immune system, such as how can we boost our immune responses to vaccination, a particular challenge for our elderly," Messaoudi said.

She and Grant were joined in the study by F. Engelmann at UCR; M. Asquith and M. Brown at the Oregon National Primate Research Center; and B. Park, A. Rau and J. Shaw at the Oregon Health and Science University.

The research was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

The University of California, Riverside is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion. A broadcast studio with fiber cable to the AT&T Hollywood hub is available for live or taped interviews. UCR also has ISDN for radio interviews. To learn more, call (951) UCR-NEWS.

Iqbal Pittalwala | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucr.edu

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Team discovers how bacteria exploit a chink in the body's armor
20.01.2017 | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Rabies viruses reveal wiring in transparent brains
19.01.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>