Alcoholic liver disease may be genetic

October 28, 2000

Genetically-based differences found in the immune response to alcohol metabolites

DALLAS, TEXAS - A new study released at the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) 2000 Annual Meeting in Dallas, October 29 - 31, suggests that genetic factors play a role in the development of advanced alcoholic liver disease (ALD) in heavy drinkers.

Christopher P. Day, M.D., University of Newcastle upon Tyne (United Kingdom), said that "the mechanisms of alcoholic liver disease may involve the immune system attacking 'self' proteins altered into 'foreign' antigens (neoantigens) by reaction with alcohol metabolites." The antibody response to alcohol thus results in immune-mediated damage.

In both clinical and laboratory studies, Day's research group provides evidence that the antibody response to proteins that are released into the blood during ethanol metabolism may be involved in the development of ALD. Specifically, in a proportion of heavy drinkers, the susceptibility to ALD is, in part, due to an enhanced immune response following alcohol consumption. This, in turn, is linked to their possession of polymorphisms in immunoregulatory genes that influence the magnitude and pattern of any immune reaction. "Our study shows that individuals with genes favoring a strong immune response are those most at risk of ALD," reports Day.

Day notes that the study "suggests directions for the development of treatment and should allow for the identification of individuals at high risk of developing the disease [ALD] before they consume excessively."
Media Contact:
Devon Ramirez
Press Room: Oct. 29 - Oct. 31, 2000
Wyndham Anatole Hotel, Dallas, Texas

Researcher Contact:
Dr. Chris Day
44 191 222 7043 [UK]

For a complete press kit including additional news releases contact:
Devon Ramirez

K-M Communications

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