Hair ethyl glucuronide and serum carbohydrate deficient transferrin for the assessment of relapse in alcohol-dependent patients

Cleo L. Crunelle*, Jef Verbeek, Geert Dom, Adrian Covaci, Michel Yegles, Peter P. Michielsen, Mireille De Doncker, Frederik Nevens, Delphine Cappelle, Alexander L. N. van Nuijs, Hugo Neels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Ethyl glucuronide in hair (hEtG) and serum carbohydrate deficient transferrin (%CDT) are valuable markers for alcohol abuse, but their diagnostic accuracy to monitor abstinence and relapse is unclear. Here, we investigate to what extent repeated measurements of hEtG and %CDT can be used to monitor relapse in alcohol-dependent patients during abstinence treatment.HEtG and %CDT were measured in individuals starting treatment for alcohol dependence both at treatment entry and 3months later. Alcohol consumption and relapse episodes were recorded using the Time Line Follow Back and by alcohol breath and urine tests, and correlated with hEtG and %CDT measurements.Fifteen patients completed the study, of which nine had one or more relapses. Hair EtG and serum %CDT identified whether a relapse occurred in 78% and 57% of cases, respectively. Only hEtG correlated with the amount of alcohol consumed before treatment entry (Pearson r=0.92; p85% from initial values. Mean hEtG, but not %CDT, differed significantly between patients who relapsed and patients who remained abstinent (p=0.034).HEtG was more sensitive than serum %CDT to assess relapse in alcohol-dependent patients and was positively correlated with the amounts of alcohol consumed. In contrast, serum %CDT was more specific for assessing abstinence. We highlight the benefit of repeated measurements of hEtG and serum %CDT for monitoring abstinence during treatment. The Canadian Society of Clinical Chemists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)554-559
JournalClinical Biochemistry
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • Ethyl glucuronide
  • Carbohydrate deficient transferrin
  • Hair
  • Alcohol
  • Relapse
  • Abstinence assessment

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