Splenic function and alcohol addiction

Gino R. Corazza, Giovanni Addolorato, Federico Biagi, Fabio Caputo, Elena Castelli, Giuseppe F. Stefanini, Giovanni Gasbarrini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Severe hyposplenism has been recently documented in alcoholic liver disease, and it has been suggested that alcohol itself is important in the derangement of splenic function, despite a lack of evidence of a direct toxic effect of alcohol on the spleen. The aim of the present study was to assess splenic function in alcoholic patients without severe liver disease and to correlate these data with the degree and duration of alcohol intake. Fifty- two alcoholics, 31 subjects with current alcohol abuse (group A) - 13 abstinent from alcohol for 1 to 6 months (group B) and 8 abstinent from alcohol for 6 months to several years (group C) - and 26 healthy social drinkers were studied. Splenic function was assessed by counting the percentage of pitted red cells. An in vitro experiment was performed to verify whether the presence of pitted red cells could be due to an effect of alcohol on red cell morphology. The percentage of pitted red cells in subjects from group A was significantly higher than in subjects from group B (p <0.01), from group C (p <0.005), and from controls (p <0.001). There was no significant difference between group B, group C, and controls. Ten subjects from group A and 1 from group B and no subject from group C had evidence of splenic hypofunction. There was no significant correlation between the percentage of pitted red cells and daily alcohol intake or years of alcohol addiction. In conclusion, our study shows that, in patients with alcoholism but without any severe liver damage, a significant but slight increase in pitted red cells is present. Further studies are needed to clarify whether this is due to a mild form of splenic hypofunction or merely indicates erythrocyte membrane alterations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-200
Number of pages4
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997


  • Alcoholism
  • Liver Disease
  • Membrane Damage
  • Pitted Red Cells
  • Splenic Function

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology


Dive into the research topics of 'Splenic function and alcohol addiction'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this