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Biomarkers of chronic alcohol misuse

Authors Gonzalo P, Radenne S, Gonzalo S

Received 8 October 2013

Accepted for publication 12 November 2013

Published 17 January 2014 Volume 2014:4 Pages 9—22

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CBF.S37239

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3


Philippe Gonzalo,1 Sylvie Radenne,2 Sylvie Gonzalo3

1Laboratoire de Biochimie, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Saint-Etienne, Saint-Etienne, France; 2Service d'Hépatologie-Gastroentérologie, Hôpital de la Croix Rousse, Hospices Civils de Lyon, Lyon, France; 3Laboratoire Biomnis, Lyon, France

Abstract: 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.

Keywords: alcoholism, biomarker, CDT, relapse, alcohol-induced liver disease

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