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© 2018 Shayani Ghosh, Raka Jain. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

REVIEW ARTICLE | OPEN ACCESS DOI: 10.23937/iasar-2017/1710002

Alcohol Biomarkers and their Relevance in Detection of Alcohol Consumption in Clinical Settings

Shayani Ghosh, Raka Jain*, Sonali Jhanjee, Ravindra Rao and Ashwani Kumar Mishra

National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, India


Alcohol use disorder is a growing public health concern worldwide. Accurate assessment is an important step towards effective management of the patient suffering from alcohol use disorder. Self-report often lacks accuracy and may be misleading in a hesitant patient. The use of biochemical laboratory measures such as alcohol biomarkers, often helps in obtaining independent estimations of alcohol use. The traditional biomarkers (such as Aspartate Aminotransferase, Alanine Aminotransferase or Mean Corpuscular Volume) have lower specificity as number of other comorbid disease conditions can independently increase their levels. Additionally, they increase after prolonged exposure to alcohol, and recede to baseline levels after several weeks to months of alcohol abstinence. The recently detected advanced biomarkers (such as 5-Hydroxytrptophol, Ethyl Glucuronide and Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters) are direct products of ethanol and are relatively unaffected by other disease conditions. These biomarkers can be detected soon after a moderate-heavy bout of alcohol use and persist in the body fluids for a shorter period of time. Such biomarkers can help in detection of shorter period of episodic alcohol use also. For better treatment and good outcome, clinicians must therefore be aware of the various advantages and limitations to make optimal use of each biomarkers used in detection of alcohol. This review provides an insight about the different alcohol biomarkers, their advantages and disadvantages in the clinical aspects, and a brief overview of the variety of future biomarkers for detection of alcohol use and drinking patterns.