Research Article

Effect of ethanol on vascular prostacyclin (prostaglandin I2) synthesis, platelet aggregation, and platelet thromboxane release.

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983; 287 doi: (Published 19 November 1983) Cite this as: Br Med J (Clin Res Ed) 1983;287:1495
  1. D P Mikhailidis,
  2. J Y Jeremy,
  3. M A Barradas,
  4. N Green,
  5. P Dandona


    A series of experiments with platelets from healthy volunteers showed a concentration related inhibitory effect of ethanol on platelet aggregation and release of thromboxane A2. This effect was observed at blood alcohol concentrations ranging between 66 and 132 mg/dl (14.3 and 28.6 mmol/l), which are commonly found in alcoholics. Investigations carried out by incubating ethanol with platelet rich plasma in vitro also showed an inverse linear correlation between ethanol concentration and platelet thromboxane synthesis. In contrast, the incubation of a wide range of concentrations of ethanol with human endothelial cells and rat aortic rings did not alter the ability of these systems to synthesise prostacyclin (prostaglandin I2). This finding of a selective inhibition of thromboxane A2 synthesis and platelet aggregation without an alteration of prostaglandin I2 synthesis may provide an explanation for the reported ethanol mediated protection against vascular disease. This effect of ethanol may also be relevant to the induction of acute gastrointestinal haemorrhage that occurs after bouts of excessive alcohol consumption.