Utility of Carbohydrate‐Deficient Transferrin as a Marker of Relapse in Alcoholic Patients

Alan S. Rosman, Prithwijit Basu, Kathryn Galvin, Charles S. Lieber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations

Abstract

Carbohydrate‐deficient transferrin (CDT) has been proposed as a marker of alcoholism. However, its role in monitoring alcoholic patients for relapse has not been extensively studied. We therefore performed sequential serum CDT measurements using a microcolumn/radioimmunoassay method (Kabi Pharmacia, Piscataway, NJ) in 86 male alcoholics participating in a hepatitis vaccination program who were monitored for relapse using self‐report and collateral history (when available). The maximum serum CDT was significantly higher in patients who relapsed (n = 38) (33.1 ± 3.1 mg/liter), as compared with abstinent subjects with collateral verification (n= 39) (18.8 ± 1.3, p < 0.001) and abstinent patients without collateral verification (n= 9) (17.4 ± 1.3, p < 0.01). Using the manufacturer's currently recommended threshold of 20 mg/liter for males, serum CDT was elevated in 29 of 38 patients who relapsed (sensitivity 76.3%). In 16 (42.1%) of the relapsed patients, a serum CDT above this threshold preceded the patient's self‐report by at least 28 days. However, serum CDT exceeded 20 mg/liter in 10 of 48 patients who remained sober (specificity 79.2%); three of these patients had clinical and/or pathological evidence of cirrhosis. Using a threshold of 25 mg/liter, 21 of 38 patients who relapsed had an elevated serum CDT (sensitivity 55.3%); 12 (31.6%) of these patients had elevated serum CDT before self‐report. Only 4 of 48 subjects who remained sober had serum CDT levels that exceeded 25 mg/liter (specificity 91.7%); three of these patients had clinical and/or pathological evidence of cirrhosis. In conclusion, serial serum CDT testing detects relapses before self‐report in male subjects. Values between 20–25 mg/liter suggest relapse, but call for collateral verification, whereas CDT values above 25 mg/liter are usually diagnostic of relapse in the absence of cirrhosis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-616
Number of pages6
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Volume19
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1995

Keywords

  • CDT
  • Detection
  • Relapse
  • Self‐Report

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