Biomarkers of chronic alcohol misuse

Gonzalo, Philippe; Radenne, Sylvie; Gonzalo, Sylvie
January 2014
Current Biomarker Findings;2014, Vol. 4, p9
Academic Journal
Biological markers of chronic alcoholism can be divided into two groups: direct and indirect markers. Direct markers (mainly blood or serum and urine ethanol, ethylglucuronide, ethyl sulfate, and phosphatidylethanol) directly track the intake of alcohol and vary in their sensitivity and kinetics of appearance and clearance. Indirect markers (mean corpuscular volume, γ-glutamyl transferase, alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase, and carbohydrate-deficient transferrin) are biological parameters that are influenced by a steady and significant alcohol intake. We discuss the values of these tests and the relevance of their prescriptions for the clinical evaluation of heavy drinking. We indicate, when known, the pathophysiological mechanism of their elevations. We also discuss the amount and time of alcohol consumption required to give a positive result and the duration of abstinence required for the return to normal values. The forensic use of these biomarkers will not be considered in this review.


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