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Brief report
Early activation of peripheral monocytes with hallmarks of M1 and M2 monocytic cells in excessive alcohol drinkers: a pilot study
  1. Crystal C Walline1,
  2. Janice S Blum2,
  3. Tobyn Linton3,
  4. Darrin Mangiacarne3,
  5. Suthat Liangpunsakul4,5,6
  1. 1Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Pembroke, North Carolina, USA
  2. 2Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  3. 3Fairbanks Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  4. 4Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  5. 5Roudebush Veterans Administration Medical Center, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  6. 6Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Suthat Liangpunsakul, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA; sliangpu{at}


Excessive drinking can lead to the development of immune dysfunction. Our aim is to investigate the effect of alcohol on immune activation from circulating peripheral blood monocytes in excessive drinkers (EDs). Twenty-two EDs and healthy controls were enrolled. Time line follow-back was used to quantify the amount of alcohol consumed in the past 30 days before enrollment. Peripheral blood-derived CD14+ monocytes were isolated for gene expression analyses. Serum interleukin (IL)-6, IL-10 and lipopolysaccharides (LPS) were also measured. We found that serum LPS concentrations were significantly higher in EDs compared with controls (P<0.05). While no differences in the levels of circulating IL-6 and IL-10 were observed, the relative levels of gene transcripts (RQ) for Il6 (an M1-polarizing cytokine) and Il10 (an M2-polarizing cytokine) were significantly higher in peripheral blood-derived monocytes from EDs compared with controls (Il6: P<0.01. Il10: P<0.05). EDs exhibit early immune activation of peripheral blood monocyte mRNA transcripts, notably Il6 and Il10. Future studies are needed to explore the clinical implications of our findings and determine whether the levels of Il6 and Il10 mRNA expression can be used to identify those with excessive drinking and to monitor for alcohol abstinence.

  • alcohol drinking
  • innate immune response

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  • Contributors Conceived and designed the experiments and wrote the paper: CCW, JB and SL. Subject recruitment: TL and DM. Performed the experiments and analyzed the data: CCW and SL. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: JB and SL. All authors have read and approved the final draft of the manuscript.

  • Funding This research was supported by the United States National Institutes of Health under award numbers PO1 AI056097 (JSB), T32 HL007910 (CCW), K08 AA016570, 1I01CX000361- W81XWH-12-1-0497 from United States Department of Defense, NIH U01AA021840, NIH R21AA024935, NIH R01 DK107682, NIH R01 AA025208, and the Showalter Scholar Award from the Ralph W. and Grace M. Showalter Research Trust (all to SL).

  • Disclaimer The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval The study design and protocol were approved by the Institutional Review Board at the Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), Richard L. Roudebush VAMC Research and Development Program and at Fairbanks Alcohol Rehabilitation Center.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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