It has been well established that moderate alcohol consumption inversely correlates with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, whereas binge alcohol drinking increases cardiovascular disease risk. A study assessed in vivo the impact of different drinking patterns on reverse cholesterol transport (RCT); the athero-protective process leading to the removal of excess cholesterol from the body.
RCT was measured with a standardized, radioisotope-based technique in three groups of atherosclerosis-prone apolipoprotein E knock out mice: A placebo group (the abstainers) received water; a moderate group, received 0.8 g/kg alcohol/ day for 28 days; and a binge group, received 0.8 g/ kg alcohol/day for 5 days/week, followed by the administration of 2.8 g/kg alcohol/day for 2 days/ week, to mimic a heavy intake in a short period.
Mice in the binge drinking group displayed an increase in total cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c) and non-HDL-c (all p < 0.0001 vs. placebo), and a significantly reduced elimination of fecal cholesterol. Moderate consumption of alcohol did not lead to any changes in circulating lipids, but slightly improved cholesterol mobilization along the RCT pathway. The authors state that overall, data confirm the importance of considering not only the total amount, but also the different consumption patterns to define the impact of alcohol on cardiovascular risk.
Source: Alcohol Pattern Consumption Differently Affects the Efficiency of Macrophage Reverse Cholesterol Transport in Vivo. Greco D, Battista S, Mele L, Piemontese A, Papotti B, Cavazzini S, Potì F, Di Rocco G, Poli A, Bernini F, Zanotti I. Nutrients. 2018 Dec 3;10(12). pii: E1885.