Distributions of Alcohol Use Biomarkers Including Ethanol, Phosphatidylethanol, Ethyl Glucuronide and Ethyl Sulfate in Clinical and Forensic Testing.


NMS Labs, 200 Welsh Road, Horsham, PA 19044, United States. Electronic address: [Email]


Laboratory tests vary widely in their utility and each test has unique advantages and disadvantages. For the detection of ethanol use and abuse, a variety of direct and indirect markers are available. Alcohol biomarkers provide objective measures for numerous areas of testing including clinical trials, alcohol abuse, postmortem assessment, and drugs of abuse screening. Because the utility of alcohol biomarkers vary depending on the context in which the results will be used, knowing the analogous distribution of results is of value. Herein we report distributions of ethanol in blood, phosphatidylethanol in blood, ethyl glucuronide in urine, and ethyl sulfate in urine for results reported in the last twelve months by our laboratory. Positivity rates were higher for directed analyses when compared to broad screening or panel tests with the highest overall positivity for ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate. The distribution of results for ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate were higher in clinical testing scenarios compared to forensic and a significant correlation between ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate was found consistent with previous reports. Phosphatidylethanol was rarely ordered for forensic use while distributions between routine clinical and clinical trial use were similar. Approximately 21% of all phosphatidylethanol results were in the moderate to chronic alcohol use category. These results provide a summary of four commonly used direct markers for alcohol use with positivity rates and overall quantitative distributions. These data supply insights broken out by various disciplines where applicable providing a concise comparison of results for these markers.


BAC,PEth,Phosphatidylethanol,alcohol,blood alcohol,ethanol,ethanol markers,ethyl glucuronide,ethyl sulfate,

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