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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1989 Oct;13(5):605-10.

Evaluation of carbohydrate-deficient transferrin compared with Tf index and other markers of alcohol abuse.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Biochimie, C. H. Trousseau, Tours, France.


It has been known for some years that a partial deglycosylation of transferrin occurs in the sera of alcohol abusers. Different methods have been proposed in order to evaluate this carbohydrate-deficient fraction of serum transferrin. Chromatofocusing or isoelectric focusing followed by direct immunofixation have been used until now. Recently, a new method called the carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) test based on ion-exchange chromatography has been developed by Stibler et al. (Alcohol Clin Exp Res 10:535-544, 1986). Here we compare this new method with results obtained using our Tf index determination method. The upper limit of normal values was set to the 90th percentile of the values observed in a reference population. The population under investigation consisted of 50 healthy volunteers and 160 alcohol abusers whose ethanol consumption was evaluated through a questionnaire. Sensitivity and specificity of the CDT test have been found higher than 0.76 and 0.90, respectively. The correlation between both methods was 0.794, a satisfactory result considering that the CDT test and the Tf index do not exactly measure the same part of the carbohydrate-deficient transferrin. In a population of 23 patients with liver diseases not related to alcohol abuse, no abnormal CDT value was observed. We can conclude from these results that the CDT test now seems to be the best test to detect alcohol abusers.

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