Cell Mol Life Sci 2019 Jan 10;76(2):231-244. Epub 2018 Oct 10.
Department of Research, Advanced Diagnostic, and Technological Innovation, Translational Research Area, IRCCS Regina Elena National Cancer Institute, Via E. Chianesi 53, 00144, Rome, Italy.
Stem cells drive embryonic and fetal development. In several adult tissues, they retain the ability to self-renew and differentiate into a variety of specialized cells, thus contributing to tissue homeostasis and repair throughout life span. Alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk for several diseases and conditions. Growing and developing tissues are particularly vulnerable to alcohol's influence, suggesting that stem- and progenitor-cell function could be affected. Accordingly, recent studies have revealed the possible relevance of alcohol exposure in impairing stem-cell properties, consequently affecting organ development and injury response in different tissues. Here, we review the main studies describing the effects of alcohol on different types of progenitor/stem cells including neuronal, hepatic, intestinal and adventitial progenitor cells, bone-marrow-derived stromal cell, dental pulp, embryonic and hematopoietic stem cells, and tumor-initiating cells. A better understanding of the nature of the cellular damage induced by chronic and episodic heavy (binge) drinking is critical for the improvement of current therapeutic strategies designed to treat patients suffering from alcohol-related disorders.