Objective. This article reviews the effects of ethanol on cytokine level studied in vivo and in vitro.
Review. The effects of ethanol on the immune system have long been known. Ethanol abuse leads to reduced immunity and increased susceptibility to infections. However, new aspects of the immuno-modulating effects of ethanol are now being discovered in already understood complications due to abuse. Many studies focus on the effects of ethanol on the cytokines. These low-corpuscular proteins may act as mediators of immunological and inflammatory reactions. Thanks to them, competent immunological cells may operate within one system to effectively incapacitate foreign bodies. The role of cytokines in alcoholic liver disease is emphasised. Several studies also suggest that ethanol may affect CNS cytokines.
Conclusions. Ethanol may have a modulating effect on cytokines and this may be reflected in alcoholic liver disease, altered cytokine action in the CNS or body resistance. Further research should help us to gain a better understanding of the effects of alcohol on the immunological system.