Biomarkers in alcoholism

Department of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Research Unit, Seinäjoki Central Hospital and University of Tampere, FIN-60220 Seinäjoki, Finland.
Clinica Chimica Acta (Impact Factor: 2.76). 03/2007; 377(1-2):39-49. DOI: 10.1016/j.cca.2006.08.035
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Alcoholism ranks as one of the main current threats to the health and safety of people in most Western countries. Therefore, a high priority should be given to aims at reducing its prevalence through more effective diagnosis and early intervention. The need for objective methods for revealing alcohol abuse in its early phase has also been widely acknowledged. It is postulated here that the diagnosis of alcohol use disorders could be markedly improved by a more systematic use of specific questionnaires and laboratory tests, including blood ethanol, serum gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT), and mean corpuscular volume of erythrocytes (MCV). Recent research has provided new insights into the relationships between ethanol intake, biomarkers, and factors affecting their diagnostic validation, including gender, age, and the effects of moderate drinking and obesity. It appears that the concept of reference intervals for several ethanol-sensitive parameters in laboratory medicine needs to be revisited. CDT is currently the most specific marker of alcohol abuse, and when combined with GGT using a mathematically formulated equation a high sensitivity is reached without loss of assay specificity. Possible new biomarkers include minor ethanol metabolites (protein-acetaldehyde condensates and associated autoimmune responses, ethylglucuronide, and phosphatidylethanolamine), 5-hydroxytryptophol, and genetic markers although so far their routine applications have been limited.

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    ABSTRACT: Abusive alcohol intake currently ranks as a major cause of liver disease, and is associated with significant mortality worldwide. Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) generically defines liver abnormalities ranging from liver steatosis to the end-stages of disease such as liver cirrhosis. Information regarding the precise incidence and prevalence of ALD is still limited by a lack of large population-based studies and by the absence of large systematic reviews of all epidemiological data available. However, existing collected data show an overall increase in the number of alcohol abusers and alcohol-related liver disease. The burden exerted on medical systems worldwide is significant, with hospitalization and management costs rising constantly over the years. A great number of all cirrhosis-related deaths in Europe and a significant percentage worldwide are associated with alcohol consumption. The main possible risk factors for ALD are the amount and duration of alcohol abuse, patterns of drinking and the type of alcoholic beverage consumed. However, ALD does not progress to cirrhosis in all patients, therefore a series of additional factors are implicated. Even though insufficiently studied, genetic factors are generally regarded as highly important, and the presence of comorbidities and dietary habits seem to play a role in disease onset and progression. This lack of clear pathophysiological data further translates in the absence of definite treatment for ALD and shall prove challenging in the coming years. In this article, we aimed to briefly review epidemiologic data on the burden of ALD, risk factors, clinical and nosographic as well as therapeutic aspects of this disease. Without attempting to be exhaustive, this short topic highlight emphasizes each point and may serve as a general guidance tool in the complicated literature related to ALD.
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    ABSTRACT: Background Severity of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS) is associated with hospital mortality and length of stay. However, as there is no consensus regarding how to predict the development of severe alcohol withdrawal syndrome (SAWS), we sought to determine independent predictors of SAWS.Methods We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies evaluating hospitalized patients with AWS versus SAWS—delirium tremens (DT) and/or seizures. Random-effects meta-analysis [PRISMA guidelines] was performed on common baseline variables and predictive effects for development of SAWS were calculated using RevMan v5.2. Funnel plots were constructed, and tests of heterogeneity were performed.ResultsOf 226 studies screened, 17 met criteria and 15 were included in the meta-analysis. The primary findings were that an incident occurrence of DT or alcohol withdrawal seizures was significantly predicted by history of a similar event (OR 2.58 for DT vs. no-DT, 95% CI 1.41, 4.7; OR 2.8 for seizure vs. no-seizure, 95% CI 1.09, 7.19). Both a lower initial platelet count and serum potassium level were predictive of an incident occurrence of DT (platelet count mean difference [MD] −45.64/mm3 vs. no-DT, 95% CI −75.95, −15.33; potassium level MD −0.26 mEq/l vs. no-DT, 95% CI −0.45, −0.08), seizures, and SAWS. Higher initial alanine aminotransferase was seen in patients with SAWS (MD 20.97 U/l vs. no-SAWS, 95% CI 0.89, 41.05). Higher initial serum gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase was seen in patients with incident alcohol withdrawal seizures (MD 202.56 U/l vs. no-seizure, 95% CI 3.62, 401.5). Significant heterogeneity was observed, and there was evidence of publication bias. Notably, neither gender nor comorbid liver disease was predictive.Conclusions The course of prior episodes of AWS is the most reliable predictor of subsequent episodes. Thrombocytopenia and hypokalemia also correlate with SAWS. We propose further research into drinking patterns, gender, and medical comorbidities.
    Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research 10/2014; 38(10). DOI:10.1111/acer.12529 · 3.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Alcohol is a hepatotoxin that is commonly consumed worldwide and is associated with a spectrum of liver injury including simple steatosis or fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is a general term used to refer to this spectrum of alcohol-related liver injuries. Excessive or harmful alcohol use is ranked as one of the top five risk factors for death and disability globally and results in 2.5 million deaths and 69.4 million annual disability adjusted life years. All patients who present with clinical features of hepatitis or chronic liver disease or who have elevated serum elevated transaminase levels should be screened for an alcohol use disorder. The diagnosis of ALD can generally be made based on history, clinical and laboratory findings. However, the diagnosis of ALD can be clinically challenging as there is no single diagnostic test that confirms the diagnosis and patients may not be forthcoming about their degree of alcohol consumption. In addition, clinical findings may be absent or minimal in early ALD characterized by hepatic steatosis. Typical laboratory findings in ALD include transaminase levels with aspartate aminotransferase greater than alanine aminotransferase as well as increased mean corpuscular volume, gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase, and IgA to IgG ratio. In unclear cases, the diagnosis can be supported by imaging and liver biopsy. The histological features of ALD can ultimately define the diagnosis according to the typical presence and distribution of hepatic steatosis, inflammation, and Mallory-Denk bodies. Because of the potential reversible nature of ALD with sobriety, regular screening of the general population and early diagnosis are essential.