Chronic alcohol intake takes a toll on every aspect of a person's life; it even gives rise to skin problems. Alcoholism could lead to severe skin infection and researchers have now found that boosting immune responses of those suffering from alcoholism could address the problem. Researchers found that increased sensitivity to infection related to chronic alcohol consumption is due to defective host defense responses, and treatment with a molecule called Interleukin-17 (IL-17) prevent this in mice.
Corey Parlet, one of the researchers from the University of Iowa said, "The clinical association between alcoholism and severe skin infection is well established. The ability to experimentally model skin immune deficiencies that occur in chronic alcoholics opens up new avenues to test immune-based therapies to better protect this population and thereby limit the spread of infectious disease to the broader community as well."
During the study, scientists administered either drinking water consisting of a 20% ethanol/water solution or plain water. After 12 weeks on this fluid regimen, with a regular solid food diet, infection outcomes and host defense responses were assessed in mice that were given a skin infection with the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus. Researchers found that ethanol-consuming mice demonstrated increased illness, including greater weight loss, larger skin lesions and increased bacterial burden. The exacerbation of clinical disease corresponded with an inability to maintain immune cell numbers and activity at the infection site, especially neutrophils, which are required to heal the infection.
Interleukin-17 normally promotes the entry of neutrophils into the skin and their function there. Researchers noted that this molecule was reduced in the skin of ethanol-consuming mice and by restoring IL-17 levels, the skin injury in mice was reduced and bacterial clearance defects were improved.
The study is published in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology