Biological, psychological, and behavioral correlates of the alcohol hangover

J.C. Verster, L.J.P. Van Doornen, M. Kleinjan, J. Garssen, L. De Haan, R. Penning, B. Olivier, K.A. Slot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background. Alcohol intake is a necessary precondition for a hangover. However the amount of alcohol consumed is not proportionally related to the presence and/or severity of the hangover symptoms. Although increased research attention has provided some knowledge regarding its contributory factors, the etiology of the hangover remains merely unknown. Methods. A naturalistic study consisting of an alcohol and a control (alcoholfree) condition was set up, in order to investigate several biological, psychological and behavioral correlates of alcohol hangovers in social drinkers. The day following an evening of alcohol consumption, participants completed a survey and saliva samples were collected. The same procedure was followed after an evening on which no alcohol was consumed. Results. Psychological complaints, smoking, sleeping time, age and sex do not seem to play a decisive role in hangover etiology. Hangover severity and binge drinking were accompanied by a significantly suppressed immune effect compared to the control condition. Hangover severity could be predicted for 36% by blood alcohol concentration estimates, dancing activity, hangover frequency and changes in IFN-γ and TNF-α levels. Conclusions. The day after an evening of alcohol consumption, a suppression of both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines was observed. More research is needed to investigate how and to what extent changes of cytokine concentrations, psychological and personality characteristics, and other biomarkers are related to the presence and severity of alcohol hangover. Funding: This study was funded by Utrecht University.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-16
Number of pages2
JournalAlcohol and Alcoholism
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2013


  • alcohol
  • cytokine
  • biological marker
  • hangover
  • society
  • medical research
  • alcoholism
  • alcohol consumption
  • etiology
  • procedures
  • university
  • smoking
  • human
  • personality
  • dancing
  • saliva
  • alcohol blood level
  • binge drinking
  • sleep time
  • funding


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