Journal of Neuroimmune Pharmacology

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 83–91 | Cite as

Circulating Cytokines as Biomarkers of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

  • Rajeshwara N. Achur
  • Willard M. Freeman
  • Kent E. Vrana
Invited Review


There are currently no consistent objective biochemical markers of alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Development of reliable diagnostic biomarkers that permit accurate assessment of alcohol intake and patterns of drinking is of prime importance to treatment and research fields. Diagnostic biomarker development in other diseases has demonstrated the utility of both open, systems biology, screening for biomarkers and more rational focused efforts on specific biomolecules or families of biomolecules. Long-term alcohol consumption leads to altered inflammatory cell and adaptive immune responses with associated pathologies and increased incidence of infections. This has led researchers to focus attention on identifying cytokine biomarkers in models of alcohol abuse. Alcohol is known to alter cytokine levels in plasma and a variety of tissues including lung, liver, and very importantly brain. A number of cytokine biomarker candidates have been identified, including: tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1-alpha, IL-1-beta, IL-6, IL-8, IL-12, and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1. This is an emerging and potentially exciting avenue of research in that circulating cytokines may contribute to diagnostic biomarker panels, and a combination of multiple biomarkers may significantly increase the sensitivity and specificity of the biochemical tests aiding reliable and accurate detection of excessive alcohol intake.


alcoholism alcohol abuse biomarkers cytokines diagnostics 



This work was supported by NIH grant R01AA016613 (KEV). The authors thank Mr. Steven Swavely for his editorial contribution.




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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rajeshwara N. Achur
    • 1
  • Willard M. Freeman
    • 2
  • Kent E. Vrana
    • 2
  1. 1.Post-graduate Department of Studies and Research in BiochemistryKuvempu UniversityShimogaIndia
  2. 2.Department of Pharmacology, R130Pennsylvania State College of MedicineHersheyUSA

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