Excessive alcohol consumption poses significant immediate and long-term health risks. The search for sensitive and specific laboratory tests suitable for screening, diagnosis, and risk/severity assessment of patients with alcohol use disorders and for monitoring and motivating patients undergoing rehabilitation treatment for alcohol abuse is an active area of clinical research. The other growing use of these biomarkers is for maternal and neonatal screening. These markers can potentially be applied to the management of pregnant women with alcohol use disorders and may allow for earlier identification and treatment of infants at risk for fetal alcohol syndrome and related disorders. A number of promising alcohol biomarkers are being investigated for their potential applications in these settings. These biomarkers fall into two categories, indirect and direct. Indirect markers are those that reflect the toxic effects of ethanol on organs, tissues, or body biochemistry. Direct biomarkers are products of ethanol metabolism. The most promising of these direct markers are the longer-lived, nonoxidative products of ethanol metabolism.
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment
The role of biomarkers in the treatment of alcohol use disorders.
The role of biomarkers in the treatment of alcohol use disorders.
Substance Abuse treatment Advisory. 2006; 5 (Accessed April 29, 2012)
- Hannuksela M.
- Liisanatti M.
- Nissinen A.
- et al.
Biochemical markers of alcoholism.
Clin Chem Lab Med. 2007; 45: 953-961
- Litten R.
- Bradley A.
- Moss H.
Alcohol biomarkers in applied settings: recent advances and future research opportunities.
Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2010; 34: 955-967
- Bakhireva L.N.
- Savage D.D.
Focus on: biomarkers of fetal alcohol exposure and fetal alcohol effects.
Alcohol Res Health. 2011; 34: 56-63
- •Excessive alcohol consumption poses a wide variety of significant immediate and long-term health risks.
- •Ethanol biomarkers have clinical utility for detection, diagnosis, and treatment of alcohol use disorders and for screening for fetal alcohol exposure.
- •Indirect biomarkers are those that reflect the toxic effects of ethanol on organs, tissues, or body biochemistry, whereas direct biomarkers are products of ethanol metabolism.
- •Indirect biomarkers include liver enzymes (aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, and γ-glutamyltransferase), carbohydrate-deficient transferrin, and mean corpuscular volume.
- •Direct biomarkers include acetaldehyde adducts, ethyl glucuronide, ethyl sulfate, phosphatidylethanol, and the fatty acid ethyl esters.
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Published online: July 16, 2012
The author has nothing to disclose.
© 2012 Elsevier Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.