Blood Leukocyte Counts and Genetic Polymorphisms of Alcohol Dehydrogenase-1B and Aldehyde Dehydrogenase-2 in Japanese Alcoholic Men

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Abstract

Background:

Roughly 40% of East Asians have inactive aldehyde dehydrogenase-2 (ALDH2) encoded by the ALDH2*2 allele, and 90% have highly active alcohol dehydrogenase-1B (ADH1B) encoded by the ADH1B*2 allele. Macrocytosis and macrocytic anemia in alcoholics have been associated with ADH1B and ALDH2 gene variants which increase acetaldehyde (AcH) levels.

Methods:

We investigated the relationship between ADH1B*2, ALDH2*2, and leukocyte counts of Japanese alcoholic men (N = 1,661).

Results:

After adjusting for age, drinking habits, smoking habits, body mass index, presence of liver cirrhosis, and serum levels of C-reactive protein, we found that total and differential leukocyte counts were lower in the presence of the ALDH2*1/*2 genotype (vs. ALDH2*1/*1 genotype). ALDH2*2/*2 carriers were not found in our study population. Leukocyte, granulocyte, and monocyte counts were also lower in the presence of ADH1B*2 (vs. ADH1B*1/*1 genotype), but the lymphocyte count was higher. The ALDH2*1/*2 genotype was associated with leukocytopenia (<4,000/μl; adjusted odds ratio [95% confidence interval] = 1.89 [1.27 to 2.80]), granulocytopenia (<2,000/μl; 1.86 [1.22 to 2.82]), monocytopenia (<250/μl; 2.22 [1.49 to 3.29]), and lymphocytopenia (<1,000/μl; 1.93 [1.32 to 2.83]). In contrast, the ADH1B*2 had the opposite effect on lymphocytopenia (0.65 [0.46 to 0.93]). Considering genotype effects under conditions of immune stimulation, we observed suppressive effects of ADH1B*2 allele on leukocytosis (≥9,000/μl; 0.69 [0.50 to 0.97]), granulocytosis (≥6,500/μl; 0.66 [0.47 to 0.93]), and monocytosis (≥750/μl; 0.56 [0.39 to 0.79]). The ADH1B*2 plus ALDH2*1/*2 combination had the greatest suppressive effects on the leukocyte, granulocyte, and monocyte counts.

Conclusions:

The total and differential blood leukocyte counts of Japanese alcoholics were strongly affected by their ADH1B and ALDH2 gene variants. High AcH exposure levels probably play a critical role in the suppression of blood leukocyte counts in alcoholics.

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