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May 1985

The Effect of Alcohol Intoxication on Inflammation of the Cornea

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Ophthalmology (Drs Leibowitz and Kupferman and Mr Ryan) and Pharmacology (Dr Kupferman), and the Nutritional Pathology Unit, Department of Pathology (Dr Vitale), Boston University School of Medicine.

Arch Ophthalmol. 1985;103(5):723-725. doi:10.1001/archopht.1985.01050050115029

• New Zealand albino rabbits received daily intraperitoneal injections of alcohol (ethyl alcohol), 1.6 g/kg and the effect of short-term (three days) and long-term (six weeks) administration on corneal inflammation was studied. Both regimens produced an average peak serum concentration of more than 0.200 g /dL, a level consistent with gross intoxication in the majority of humans. Clinical signs of intoxication were present in all animals, manifested by a gross disturbance of equilibrium and gait. Neither regimen produced measurable liver damage. Nonetheless, following both regimens of alcohol administration, significantly fewer polymorphonuclear leukocytes invaded the corneas of animals receiving alcohol than invaded the corneas of simultaneously run controls receiving intraperitoneal saline. These data provide a mechanism to explain why an alcoholic individual might not cope with a corneal infection as well as a nonalcoholic person, an observation long thought to be true clinically.

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