Chronic alcohol use alters adaptive immunity and cytokine activity influencing immunological and hormone responses, inflammation, and wound healing. Brain cytokine disturbances may impact neurological function, mood, cognition and traits related to alcoholism including impulsiveness. We examined the relationship between plasma cytokine levels and self-rated psychiatric symptoms in 40 adult males (mean age 51 ± 6 years; range 33–58 years) with current alcohol dependence and 30 control males (mean age 48 ± 6 years; range 40–58 years) with no history of alcoholism using multiplex sandwich immunoassays with the Luminex magnetic-bead based platform. Log-transformed cytokine levels were analyzed for their relationship with the Symptom Checklist-90R (SCL-90R), Barratt Impulsivity Scales (BIS) and Alcoholism Severity Scale (ASS). Inflammatory cytokines (interferon γ-induced protein-10 (IP-10); monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP1); regulated on activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted (RANTES)) were significantly elevated in alcoholism compared to controls while bone marrow-derived hematopoietic cytokines and chemokines (granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (GCSF); soluble CD40 ligand (sCD40L); growth-related oncogene (GRO)) were significantly reduced. GRO and RANTES levels were positively correlated with BIS scales; and macrophage-derived chemokine (MDC) levels were positively correlated with SCL-90R scale scores (p
< 0.05). Elevated inflammatory mediators in alcoholism may influence brain function leading to increased impulsiveness and/or phobia. The novel association between RANTES and GRO and impulsivity phenotype in alcoholism should be further investigated in alcoholism and psychiatric conditions with core impulsivity and anxiety phenotypes lending support for therapeutic intervention.
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