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Current Medicinal Chemistry


ISSN (Print): 0929-8673
ISSN (Online): 1875-533X

Review Article

Biomarkers of Alcohol Consumption in Body Fluids - Possibilities and Limitations of Application in Toxicological Analysis

Author(s): Mateusz Kacper Woźniak*, Marek Wiergowski, Jacek Namieśnik and Marek Biziuk

Volume 26, Issue 1, 2019

Page: [177 - 196] Pages: 20

DOI: 10.2174/0929867324666171005111911

Price: $65


Background: Ethyl alcohol is the most popular legal drug, but its excessive consumption causes social problems. Despite many public campaigns against alcohol use, car accidents, instances of aggressive behaviour, sexual assaults and deterioration in labor productivity caused by inebriated people is still commonplace. Fast and easy diagnosis of alcohol consumption is required in order to introduce proper and effective therapy, and is crucial in forensic toxicology analysis. The easiest method to prove alcohol intake is determination of ethanol in body fluids or in breath. However, since ethanol is rapidly metabolized in the human organism, only recent consumption can be detected using this method. Because of that, the determination of alcohol biomarkers was introduced for monitoring alcohol consumption over a wider range of time.

Objective: The objective of this study was to review published studies focusing on the sample preparation methods and chromatographic or biochemical techniques for the determination of alcohol biomarkers in whole blood, plasma, serum and urine.

Methods: An electronic literature search was performed to discuss possibilities and limitations of application of alcohol biomarkers in toxicological analysis.

Results: Authors described the markers of alcohol consumption such as: ethanol, its nonoxidative metabolites (ethyl glucuronide, ethyl sulfate, phosphatidylethanol, ethyl phosphate, fatty acid ethyl esters) and oxidative metabolites (acetaldehyde and acetaldehyde adducts). We also discussed issues concerning the detection window of these biomarkers, and possibilities and limitations of their use in routine analytical toxicology for monitoring alcohol consumption or sobriety during alcohol therapy.

Keywords: Alcohol, alcohol dependence, analytical methods, biological markers, ethanol metabolites, biochemical techniques.

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