Regulatory potential of ethanol and retinoic acid on human monocyte functions

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology; Department of Surgery

Publication Date


Document Type



Antigens, CD4; Cell Line; Dose-Response Relationship, Drug; Ethanol; Humans; Immune Tolerance; Monocytes; Transforming Growth Factor beta; Tretinoin; Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha


Digestive System Diseases | Gastroenterology


Retinoic acid (RA), a metabolic product of vitamin A, has been shown to affect a variety of immune functions, including monocytes. Monocyte functions and mediator production are also modulated by ethanol exposure. This study demonstrates that therapeutic doses of RA (0.1-10 microM) significantly increase transforming growth factor-beta (TGF beta) production both in THP-1, human myelomonocytic cells, and in human peripheral blood monocytes. We have previously reported TGF beta induction by ethanol in human M theta. Combination of RA stimulation with acute in vitro ethanol treatment, however, resulted in significantly lower M theta TGF beta production than TGF beta levels induced by RA alone (p < 0.003). Down-regulation of M theta TGF beta production by ethanol was tested at the concentration range of 25-150 mM and occurred both at high and low RA concentrations (10-0.1 microM). In contrast to its inhibitory effect on RA-induced M theta TGF beta production, ethanol augmented TGF beta production induced by muramyl dipeptide (20 micrograms/ml), suggesting that ethanol can either up- or down-regulate M theta TGF beta production, depending on the costimulatory factors. RA also induced a moderate increase in M theta tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF alpha) production, which was down-regulated by ethanol both at the level of secreted and cell-associated TNF alpha. In addition to regulation of cytokine production, both RA and ethanol decreased expression of CD4 on THP-1 cells. The degree of inhibition of CD4 expression by RA was more significant than by ethanol, but RA-induced decrease in CD4 expression was not significantly affected by the combined stimulation with ethanol.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)


Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1994 Jun;18(3):548-54.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research

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PubMed ID