A Review Of Alcohol–pathogen Interactions: New Insights Into Combined Disease Pathomechanisms

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Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research


Progression of chronic infections to end-stage diseases and poor treatment results are frequently associated with alcohol abuse. Alcohol metabolism suppresses innate and adaptive immunity leading to increased viral load and its spread. In case of hepatotropic infections, viruses accelerate alcohol-induced hepatitis and liver fibrosis, thereby promoting end-stage outcomes, including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In this review, we concentrate on several unexplored aspects of these phenomena, which illustrate the combined effects of viral/bacterial infections and alcohol in disease development. We review alcohol-induced alterations implicated in immunometabolism as a central mechanism impacting metabolic homeostasis and viral pathogenesis in Simian immunodeficiency virus/human immunodeficiency virus infection. Furthermore, in hepatocytes, both HIV infection and alcohol activate oxidative stress to cause lysosomal dysfunction and leakage and apoptotic cell death, thereby increasing hepatotoxicity. In addition, we discuss the mechanisms of hepatocellular carcinoma and tumor signaling in hepatitis C virus infection. Finally, we analyze studies that review and describe the immune derangements in hepatotropic viral infections focusing on the development of novel targets and strategies to restore effective immunocompetency in alcohol-associated liver disease. In conclusion, alcohol exacerbates the pathogenesis of viral infections, contributing to a chronic course and poor outcomes, but the mechanisms behind these events are virus specific and depend on virus–alcohol interactions, which differ among the various infections.

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