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January 16, 1987

Alcohol and Immune Defense

Author Affiliations

University of Perugia Medical School Italy

University of Perugia Medical School Italy

JAMA. 1987;257(3):316-317. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03390030046015

To the Editor.—  We read with interest the article by MacGregor1 in the Sept 19 issue concerning alcohol abuse and immune defense. This excellent review summarizes clinical and laboratory aspects of various dysfunctions in the cellular, humoral, and polymorphonuclear arms of the immune system in patients with alcoholic liver disease (ALD). However, some aspects of cell-mediated dysfunction in alcoholism need clarification, because several studies on thymus-dependent lymphocytes have given conflicting results.

Study.—  We performed a phenotypic and functional evaluation (by using monoclonal antibodies in a double-color immunofluorescence assay and pokeweed mitogen—driven coculture experiments) of circulating T cells and helper and suppressor T-cell activity on B-cell differentiation in ALD. Our results indicate a normal absolute T-cell number with an expansion of T4+ helper T cells that also coexpress on their surface interleukin 2—receptor complex (as detected by anti-Tac monoclonal antibody). Patients with ALD had 69.9% ±3.1% (0.699 ±0.031) T4+ lymphocytes