The Liver

Mcjunkin (1917) gave 80 per cent. alcohol daily or on alternate days in intoxicating amounts to guinea-pigs, rabbits, cats and dogs; the greatest number of doses for any one animal was 92. He also gave alcohol rectally, subcutaneously, intraperitoneally, by injection into the common bile-duct, and by injection directly into the liver. In no case did he find any lesion of the liver similar to that in human cirrhosis. Robertson gave alcohol daily to dogs for over a year, and the liver showed no changes. Grover, by 15 c.c. daily of 34 per cent. alcohol in the empty stomach, obtained a beginning cirrhosis after several months in 5 out of 12 rabbits. (See also Liver, p. 326.)

The Kidneys

Hultgen (1910) reported 461 cases of chronic alcoholism with clinical evidences of nephritis in 9.1 per cent., and albuminuria in 5.2 per cent., and called attention to the report of Dickinson in Allbutt's System that in 48 autopsies of those who died of alcohol there was no greater proportion of contracted kidneys than in 48 postmortems of persons of the same age who were not alcoholics. But A. S. Warthin states that he has never seen a normal kidney, postmortem, from an alcoholic, and criticizes Hultgen's diagnosis as clinical and not histologic.

Gideon Wells describes the alcoholic kidney as of the "hogback" type, fat and rounded, and normal looking, but really sclerotic and with a diminished number of capable glomeruli. In the author's experience it may fail to give urinary evidences unless the urine is examined morning and evening and day after day.

Fecundity And Heredity

Stockard's long-continued experiments with guinea-pigs exposed to the fumes of alcoholism for six days a week almost to the point of intoxication give information of great interest. In 1916 he published records of 1115 offspring produced by 887 matings. The alcoholic females were slow to conceive, not prolific, and in many cases almost or quite sterile. In 180 matings, of which one or both parents were alcoholized, there were 40 per cent. of negative results or early abortions, while in the controls there were 21 per cent.

The mating records of the first generation of descendants of the alcoholized guinea-pigs, although themselves not treated with alcohol, show that in 140 living litters there were 238 young, of which 102 died within a few days, about 13 per cent. of them being deformed, and 136 survived, 8 per cent. of them showing eye deformities. Of 186 control young of the same stock not alcoholized not one was deformed. The succeeding generations became weaker and less prolific. Structural defects were numerous and were confined largely to the central nervous system and the special sense organs. The female offspring from alcoholic males and the male offspring from alcoholic females showed special inferiority.

Gordon (1916) studied the pedigrees for four generations in three alcoholic human families, and found various degrees of mental deficiency, striking feeble-mindedness, epilepsy, violent temper, somnambulism, tremors, and choreiform movements. In four generations there were only 3 normal descendants of the alcoholic males. Stockard quotes Sullivan's observation of a sober, industrious woman who married three times. The first and third husbands were sober, and with the first there were three normal children, and with the third two normal children. The second husband was a drunkard, and of this union there were three children, one of which became a drunkard, one an epileptic, and one a degenerate.

Resistance To Disease

There is evidence that medicinal quantities of alcohol increase the susceptibility to bacterial invasion or increase the danger of toxemias in acute illness; and there is no doubt that the taking of alcohol in large quantities day after day for many years results in impairment of the body structures, lessens resistance to many infections, influences unfavorably the processes of immunization, and diminishes the healing power of injured tissues. There is a well-recognized high mortality among alcoholics in pneumonia and tuberculosis. Laitinen reports a greater susceptibility to infection and greater mortality if much alcohol is used, but not much from the prolonged use of small quantities (0.1 c.c. per kilo, i. e., 1/2 ounce (15 c.c.) of whisky for a man).

Rubin found that a hypodermatic of alcohol, ether, or chloroform would render rabbits more susceptible to streptococcus and pneumococcus infections; Stewart, that a small amount of alcohol lowers the opsonic index to the bacillus tuberculosis and streptococcus, and Graham that animals given alcohol or ether succumb more readily to experimental infection than controls, especially in those diseases of which the immunity is chiefly phagocytic. Lyon Smith found that in animals doses equivalent to 2 ounces (60 c.c.) for a man of 140 pounds (70 kilo.) increased phagocytic activity, while doses equivalent to 10 ounces (300 c.c.) destroyed it; while Parkinson found that it had no action on phagocytic activity if present in a strength below 12.5 per cent. In anaphylactic experiments, Besredka found that animals to which alcohol was given following the sensitizing dose were more resistant to the anaphylactic dose.

Alcohol in mildly intoxicating quantities for several days after the injection of the antigen retards the formation of the antibodies (Muller, 1904; Wirgin 1905); but the results of others' experiments seem to indicate a favorable action in the formation of antibodies from a single mildly toxic dose of alcohol at or near the time the antigen is introduced. Laitinen found it difficult to immunize alcoholized animals to diphtheria toxin. Parkinson found that a small dose in rabbits might stimulate the production of antibodies temporarily and that it lessened the reacting mechanism to vaccines; that a large dose will lower the opsonic index for twenty-four hours, and that continued moderate doses cause a permanent lowering of the opsonic index.