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Is alcohol beneficial or harmful for cardioprotection?.

Lakshman, R; Garige, M; Gong, M; Leckey, L; Varatharajalu, R; Zakhari, S. 2010. GENES AND NUTRITION 5 (2): 111-120, Sp. Iss. SI

While the effects of chronic ethanol consumption on liver have been well studied and documented, its effect on the cardiovascular system is bimodal. Thus, moderate drinking in many population studies is related to lower prevalence of coronary artery disease (CAD). In contrast, heavy drinking correlates with higher prevalence of CAD. In several other studies of cardiovascular mortalities, abstainers and heavy drinkers are at higher risk than light or moderate drinkers. The composite of this disparate relation in several population studies of cardiovascular mortality has been a "U-" or "J-" shaped curve. Apart from its ability to eliminate cholesterol from the intima of the arteries by reverse cholesterol transport, another major mechanism by which HDL may have this cardioprotective property is by virtue of the ability of its component enzyme paraoxonase1 (PON1) to inhibit LDL oxidation and/or inactivate OxLDL. Therefore, PON1 plays a central role in the disposal of OxLDL and thus is antiatherogenic. Furthermore, PON1 is a multifunctional antioxidant enzyme that can also detoxify the homocysteine metabolite, homocysteine thiolactone (HTL), which can pathologically cause protein damage by homocysteinylation of the lysine residues, thereby leading to atherosclerosis. We demonstrated that moderate alcohol up regulates liver PON1 gene expression and serum activity, whereas heavy alcohol consumption had the opposite effects in both animal models and in humans. The increase in PON1 activity in light drinkers was not due to preferential distribution of high PON1 genotype in this group. It is well known that wine consumption in several countries shows a remarkable inverse correlation to local rates of CAD mortality. Significantly, apart from its alcohol content, red wine also has polyphenols such as quercetin and resveratrol that are also known to have cardioprotective effects. We have shown that quercetin also up regulates PON1 gene in rats and in human liver cells. The action of quercetin seems to be mediated via the active form of the nuclear lipogenic transcription factor, sterol-regulatory element-binding protein 2 (SREBP2) that is translocated from endoplasmic reticulum to the nucleus. However, the mechanism of action of ethanol-mediated up-regulation of PON1 gene remains to be elucidated. We conclude that both moderate ethanol and quercetin, the two major components of red wine, exhibit cardioprotective properties via the up-regulation of the antiatherogenic gene PON1. (We recommend that you consult the full text of this article).
Published on 11/16/2010
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