Aliphatic alcohols in spirits inhibit phagocytosis by human monocytes

László Pál, Ervin M. Árnyas, Orsolya Bujdosó, Gergo Baranyi, Gábor Rácz, Róza Ádány, Martin McKee, Sándor Szucs

Research output: Article

3 Citations (Scopus)


A large volume of alcoholic beverages containing aliphatic alcohols is consumed worldwide. Previous studies have confirmed the presence of ethanol-induced immunosuppression in heavy drinkers, thereby increasing susceptibility to infectious diseases. However, the aliphatic alcohols contained in alcoholic beverages might also impair immune cell function, thereby contributing to a further decrease in microbicidal activity. Previous research has shown that aliphatic alcohols inhibit phagocytosis by granulocytes but their effect on human monocytes has not been studied. This is important as they play a crucial role in engulfment and killing of pathogenic microorganisms and a decrease in their phagocytic activity could lead to impaired antimicrobial defence in heavy drinkers. The aim of this study was to measure monocyte phagocytosis following their treatment with those aliphatic alcohols detected in alcoholic beverages. Monocytes were separated from human peripheral blood and phagocytosis of opsonized zymosan particles by monocytes treated with ethanol and aliphatic alcohols individually and in combination was determined. It was shown that these alcohols could suppress the phagocytic activity of monocytes in a concentration-dependent manner and when combined with ethanol, they caused a further decrease in phagocytosis. Due to their additive effects, it is possible that they may inhibit phagocytosis in a clinically meaningful way in alcoholics and episodic heavy drinkers thereby contribute to their increased susceptibility to infectious diseases. However, further research is needed to address this question.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-201
Number of pages9
JournalImmunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - ápr. 1 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Toxicology
  • Pharmacology

Cite this

Pál, L., Árnyas, E. M., Bujdosó, O., Baranyi, G., Rácz, G., Ádány, R., McKee, M., & Szucs, S. (2015). Aliphatic alcohols in spirits inhibit phagocytosis by human monocytes. Immunopharmacology and Immunotoxicology, 37(2), 193-201.