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Psychopharmacol Bull. 1997;33(1):171-5.

Carbohydrate-deficient transferrin: an investigative biochemical marker of heavy alcohol consumption.

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  • 1Center for Studies of Addiction, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104-6178, USA.


Carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) has been identified as a potential biochemical marker of heavy alcohol consumption. Published studies to date primarily have focused on the ability of CDT levels to distinguish individuals with heavy alcohol drinking from nondrinking populations. In contrast, this study examines the utility of CDT levels in distinguishing alcohol-dependent patients who drink heavily from those who drink smaller amounts. This study also evaluates the potential relationship of CDT to severity of alcohol dependence and its gender differences. Serum was collected in 38 DSM-III-R alcohol-dependent outpatients at treatment entry (22 males, 16 females). CDT levels correlated with the extent of alcohol drinking in the month before treatment in males (r = 0.56, df = 20, p < .01), but not in females (r = 0.08, df = 14, NS). CDT levels also correlated with alcohol severity at pre-treatment in males (r = 0.53, df = 20, p < .05), but not in females (r = 0.27, df = 14, NS). Thus, elevated CDT levels may be mediated by alcohol severity, distinguishing CDT not only as a marker of heavy drinking, but also as an indicator of the severity of drinking-related biological and psychosocial dysfunction that may require further intervention.

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