In a cross-over intervention study where the same subjects were fed a fat-enriched diet in conjunction with week-long periods of (1) no alcohol, (2) vodka, (3) red wine, (4) brandy, and (5) rum (with the order of administration assigned randomly), the largest anti-inflammatory effect was seen when red wine was given, with some effect from brandy and rum but none from vodka. This study supports many previous studies showing anti-inflammatory effects of the polyphenols and other non-alcoholic substances in certain beverages.
Nuclear factor-kappa B (NFK-B) is a redox sensitive transcription factor implicated in the pathogenesis of atherosclerosis. The investigators examined the effect of four different ethanol-containing beverages on the activation of NFK-B in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and circulating concentrations of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) in healthy volunteers receiving a fat-enriched diet. Sixteen volunteers received 16 g/m2 of ethanol in form of red wine, spirits (vodka, rum, and brandy), or no ethanol intake along with a fat-enriched diet during 5 days and all of them took all alcohols at different periods. NFK-B activation and circulating MCP-1 levels were examined in blood samples taken before and after 5 days of ethanol intake.
Subjects receiving a fat-enriched diet had increased NFK-B activation in PBMC at day 5. Furthermore, MCP-1 levels were increased in plasma at day 5. Red wine intake and some ethanol beverages containing polyphenols (brandy and rum) prevented NFK-B activation and decreased MCP-1 release. The authors conclude that consumption of moderate amounts of alcoholic drinks containing polyphenols decreases NFK-B activation in PBMCs and MCP-1 plasma levels during a fat-enriched diet. They state that their results provide additional evidence of the anti-inflammatory effects of some ethanol-containing beverages, further supporting the idea that its moderate consumption may help to reduce overall cardiovascular mortality.
R Curtis Ellison comments:
‘There are contradictory results from epidemiologic studies as to whether the polyphenols and other substances in red wine and certain other alcohol-containing beverages provide additional protection over that of alcohol. Many studies in the US show no difference according to type of beverage. On the other hand, most scientific experiments suggest added protection from the non-alcoholic substances in certain beverages. Differences according to beverage type are difficult to assess in epidemiologic studies, since it is often found that people who prefer wine rather than other beverages have different lifestyles, and such lifestyle differences make it hard to adequately adjust for confounding.
The present small intervention study focused on differences of several alcohol-containing beverages on two important measures of inflammation: nuclear factor-kappa B (TNF-B) and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1). Both of these measures of inflammation were increased when subjects were fed a fat-enriched diet (44% fat, with 22% saturated fat), but the addition of red wine or, to some extent, brandy or rum, tended to block the increase in inflammation. A decrease in inflammation was not seen when vodka was consumed. The amount of alcohol given subjects (served with their noon and evening meals) was the equivalent of about 2 to 2.5 drinks/day.
The level of NFK-B activation with the diet (Control) and with different beverages is shown in Figure 1 from the paper, below. Note similar effects of wine, brandy, and rum.
The changes in circulating MCP-1 after 5 days of diet/alcohol are shown in Figure 2 from the paper, below. Note that the largest effect was seen after wine, with intermediary effects from brandy and rum, but no effects from vodka’.
Source: Blanco-Colio LM,et al. Ethanol beverages containing polyphenols decrease nuclear factor kappa-B activation in mononuclear cells and circulating MCP-1 concentrations in healthy volunteers during a fat-enriched diet. Atherosclerosis 2007;192:335341.