Immunologic mechanisms of alcoholic liver injury

Geoffrey Milton Thiele, Thomas L. Freeman, Lynell Warren Klassen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Clinically, the association of alcoholic liver disease (ALD) with circulating autoantibodies, hypergammaglobulinemia, antibodies to unique hepatic proteins, and cytotoxic lymphocytes reacting against autologous hepatocytes strongly suggests altered immune regulation with an increased activity toward normal self-proteins (loss of tolerance). Experimentally, there are several immune responses generated specifically recognizing self-proteins that are modified by metabolites of alcohol. These data strongly suggest that immune reactions may play a significant role in inducing and sustaining an inflammatory cascade of tissue damage to the liver. Additional support for this comes from the observation that the histological appearance of livers with ALD is that of a chronic active hepatitis-like inflammatory disease. Therefore, the hypothesis that immune mechanisms are involved in recurrent alcoholic hepatitis, although not summarily proven, is reasonable, supported by clinical and experimental evidence, and the subject of this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-287
Number of pages15
JournalSeminars in liver disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • Adducts
  • Antibodies
  • Autoimmunity
  • Immune responses
  • T cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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