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International Journal of Hepatology
Volume 2012, Article ID 893026, 7 pages
Review Article

Role of Adaptive Immunity in Alcoholic Liver Disease

Department of Medical Sciences and Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Autoimmune Diseases (IRCAD), University “Amedeo Avogadro” of East Piedmont, Via Solaroli 17, 28100 Novara, Italy

Received 31 May 2011; Accepted 8 July 2011

Academic Editor: Laura Schrum

Copyright © 2012 Emanuele Albano. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Stimulation of innate immunity is increasingly recognized to play an important role in the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver disease (ALD), while the contribution of adaptive immunity has received less attention. Clinical and experimental data show the involvement of Th-1 and Th-17 T-lymphocytes in alcoholic hepatitis. Nonetheless, the mechanisms by which alcohol triggers adaptive immunity are still incompletely characterized. Patients with advanced ALD have circulating IgG and T-lymphocytes recognizing epitopes derived from protein modification by hydroxyethyl free radicals and end products of lipid-peroxidation. High titers of IgG against lipid peroxidation-derived antigens are associated with an increased hepatic production of proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines. Moreover, the same antigens favor the breaking of self-tolerance towards liver constituents. In particular, autoantibodies against cytochrome P4502E1 (CYP2E1) are evident in a subset of ALD patients. Altogether these results suggest that allo- and autoimmune reactions triggered by oxidative stress might contribute to hepatic inflammation during the progression of ALD.