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Alcohol. 2001 Nov;25(3):173-9.

Plasma sialic-acid index of apolipoprotein J (SIJ): a new alcohol intake marker.

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Bio Probes, Inc., Gaithersburg, MD 20879-3234, USA.


Although plasma carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) is considered a viable biochemical marker for chronic alcohol consumption, it is valid only when an individual's daily alcohol consumption exceeds 60 g. In addition, it is less sensitive in women drinkers than in men drinkers. We have established that chronic alcohol consumption impairs the hepatic sialylation of a number of glycoproteins by specifically down-regulating Gal-beta-1,4GlcNAc alpha2,6-sialyltransferase mRNA. Significantly, we found that chronic ethanol consumption markedly inhibits hepatic sialylation of apolipoprotein J (Apo J), a 70-kDa N-glycosylated protein of plasma HDL. Because the sialic-acid index of Apo J (SIJ; moles of sialic acid per mole of Apo J protein) is approximately seven times more than that for transferrin (28 vs. 4), we have evaluated whether plasma SIJ would be an even more sensitive marker for chronic ethanol consumption than CDT in both rats and human subjects. The method involves immunoaffinity purification of plasma HDL-Apo J, followed by its sialic acid determination. We have found that chronic ethanol feeding resulted in loss of sialic acid residues of plasma HDL-Apo J in rats. This loss of sialic acid was positively correlated with both amount and duration of ethanol treatment. In human subjects, an intake of about 60 g of alcohol for 30 days led to almost 50% (P <.01) depletion of sialic acid from plasma HDL-Apo J. Further, we established that there was a positive correlation of alteration in SIJ with alcohol consumption, detoxification, abstinence, and relapse in human alcohol-dependent patients (sensitivity, 90%-92%). In addition, plasma SIJ was decreased by 50%-57% (P <.01) in both male and female alcohol-dependent subjects. We suggest that plasma SIJ can be used as a viable marker for early detection of chronic alcohol consumption in human beings.

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