Epidemiological studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption is associated with lower morbidity. However, intervention studies are needed to elucidate mechanisms involved. This study was aimed to determine the effects of moderate beer consumption on the immune function of healthy adults, taking into account gender differences.
After a 30-day alcohol abstinence period, 57 healthy volunteers consumed a moderate intake of beer (330 ml for women and 660 ml for men) for 30 days. Total leukocyte and lymphocyte counts; absolute values of T-lymphocyte CD3+, CD4+, and CD8+ subsets; delayed-hypersensitivity skin response (DHSR); absolute values of B lymphocytes (CD19+) and serum immunoglobulin concentrations (IgG, IgA, and IgM); and cytokine production (IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IFN-gamma, and TNF-alpha) were evaluated following the abstinence and alcohol consumption periods.
After moderate beer consumption CD3+ cells increased only in women (p < 0.05). IgG, IgM, and IgA concentrations, as well as IL-2, IL-4, IL-10, and IFN-gamma cytokine production increased while IFN-gamma/IL-10 ratio decreased in both men and women (p < 0.05). The rest of the immunological parameters analyzed remained unchanged.
Moderate beer consumption produced an immunomodulatory effect in a healthy adult Spanish population; this effect appears to be more relevant in women than in men.