American Journal of Medicine, internal medicine, medicine, health, healthy lifestyles, cancer, heart disease, drugs

Red Wine Prevents the Acute Negative Vascular Effects of Smoking


Moderate consumption of red wine is associated with fewer cardiovascular events. We investigated whether red wine consumption counteracts the adverse vascular effects of cigarette smoking.


Participants smoked 3 cigarettes alone or after drinking a titrated volume of red wine. Clinical chemistry, blood counts, plasma cytokine enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays, immunomagnetic separation of CD14+monocytes for gene expression analysis, fluorescence-activated cell sorting for microparticles, and isolation of circulating mononuclear cells to measure telomerase activity were performed, and urine cotinine levels were quantified.


Compared with baseline, leukocytosis (P = .019), neutrophilia (P <.001), lymphopenia (P <.001), and eosinopenia (P = .008) were observed after only smoking. Endothelial and platelet-, monocyte-, and leukocyte-derived microparticles (P <.001 each) were elevated. In monocytes, messenger RNA expression of interleukin (IL)-6 (2.6- ± 0.57-fold), tumor necrosis factor alpha (2.2- ± 0.62-fold), and IL-1b (2.3- ± 0.44-fold) were upregulated, as was IL-6 (1.2 ± 0.12-fold) protein concentration in plasma. Smoking acutely inhibited mononuclear cell telomerase activity. Markers of endothelial damage, inflammation, and cellular aging were completely attenuated by red wine consumption.


Cigarette smoke results in acute endothelial damage, vascular and systemic inflammation, and indicators of the cellular aging processes in otherwise healthy nonsmokers. Pretreatment with red wine was preventive. The findings underscore the magnitude of acute damage exerted by cigarette smoking in “occasional lifestyle smokers” and demonstrate the potential of red wine as a protective strategy to avert markers of vascular injury.


Regular consumption of red wine often is credited as the explanation for the “French paradox”, a term coined to describe the observation that the French enjoy a relatively low risk of cardiovascular disease that correlates to their wine consumption.1 Benefits of red wine were attributed to phenolic compounds, which mediate its antioxidant effects.23 Red wine stimulates the formation of endothelium-dependent relaxation factors such as nitric oxide, thereby improving endothelial function in human coronary arteries4 possibly because of the high phenol concentration in red wine.4 Sparse data exist investigating acute potential vasoprotective effects of red wine in smoking healthy individuals. The aim of this study was to investigate “occasional lifestyle smoking” with or without previous red wine consumption on acute vascular effects in healthy medical professionals.

Materials and Methods

Participants and Study Design

Healthy young nonsmokers (14 male, 6 female) were included in the study after providing informed written consent for the study (mean age, 31.1 ± 0.8 years). All volunteers were fasting for at least 6 hours, not performing exercise, or exposed to passive smoking for at least 24 hours. The participants had to smoke 3 cigarettes (Gauloises red, Imperial Tobacco), 10 of them 1 hour after drinking red wine (Chateau Haut-Pontet, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru, 2005) aiming to reach 0.075% blood alcohol content as calculated by the Widmark formula. Blood (each ∼40 mL) and urine collection (each 10 mL) were performed before (baseline, T0) and 45 minutes after drinking the red wine and 100 minutes (T2) and 18 hours after smoking (Figure 1). The study was approved by the Ethik-Kommission der Ärztekammer des Saarlandes (Compliance No. 14/11).

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-Viktoria Schwarz, MD, Katrin Bachelier, MD, Stephan H. Schirmer, MD, PhD, Christian Werner, MD, Ulrich Laufs, MD, Michael Böhm, MD

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

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