Binge drinking disrupts immune system activity in young adults

Recently read a study based on young adults (aged 18 – 34) who drank enough to exceed 0.08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) showed signs of increased immune function. But at 2 and 5 hours later, their immune system showed reduced activity compared to those who are sober.

It’s clear that alcohol affects the immune system in many ways, from hours to days after exposure. This study focus’ on the early effects of alcohol of the immune system while blood alcohol content is still elevated.

Volunteers were given a high-dose alcohol content. Blood was collected pre-ingestion of alcohol, 20 mins, 2 hours and 5 hours post alcohol ingestion. Flow cytometry and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) techniques were used.

Results showed an increase in total circulating leukocytes, monocytes and natural killer cells only after 20 mins after ingestion, where BAC was at around 130 mg/dL. There was also an increase in tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-Alpha levels. AT 2 to 5 hours, immune function and activity reduced. It concluded that binge alcohol increased immune activity and function in it’s early pro-inflammatory state, which was followed by an anti-inflammatory state thereafter.

Paper:
Afshar, M., Richards, S., Mann, D., Cross, A., Smith, G., Netzer, G., Kovacs, E. and Hasday, J. (2014). Acute Immunomodulatory Effects of Binge Alcohol Ingestion. Alcohol. [online] Available at: http://www.alcoholjournal.org/article/S0741-8329(14)20186-8/abstract [Accessed 30 Dec. 2014].

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