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Researchers writing story of the 'alcoholic lung'

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL (Nov. 3, 2006) _ Chronic alcohol abuse disrupts the proteins that keep fluids out of the lung, lowers a protective antioxidant, disrupts immune defenses and can lead to a condition known as 'alcoholic lung,' according to research to be presented at the conference, "Physiological Genomics and Proteomics of Lung Disease." The findings give insight into how excessive drinking can harm the molecular life of the lung and lead to serious illness, including pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

The study "Chronic alcohol ingestion renders the lung epithelium susceptible to acute injury by alteration in granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor signaling and alveolar epithelial permeability," was carried out by David Guidot, Pratibha Joshi, Jesse Roman, Lou Ann Brown and Michael Koval of Emory University in Atlanta. Guidot and Joshi are also associated with the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Atlanta.

"We're trying to understand what's happening with the alcoholic lung at the molecular level," said Koval, who will present the findings at The American Physiological Society lung disease conference taking place Nov. 2-5 in Fort Lauderdale.

Beyond the liver

Although chronic alcohol abuse is closely associated with liver disease, the condition affects many of the body's organs. In recent years, researchers have turned their attention to the 'alcoholic lung.'

Alcoholics are more susceptible to pneumonia and more than twice as likely to develop ARDS compared to non-alcoholics, Koval said. The alcoholic lung has been found to have lower levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that helps protect the lung from oxidative stress.

The Emory research team has found that alcohol disrupts claudins, a family of proteins that helps maintain a tight air-fluid barrier. This barrier allows air into the lung, while keeping blood and other potentially smothering fluids out.

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Contact: Christine Guilfoy
cguilfoy@the-aps.org
301-634-7253
American Physiological Society
3-Nov-2006


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