Novel serum biomarkers for detection of excessive alcohol use

Suthat Liangpunsakul, Xianyin Lai, Ruth A. Ross, Zhangsheng Yu, Elizabeth Modlik, Chi Westerhold, Laura Heathers, Robin Paul, Sean O'Connor, David W. Crabb, Frank Witzmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Background: Construct interview that correctly identifies those with alcohol use disorder have limitation, especially when the subjects are motivated to minimize the magnitude of drinking behavior. Current laboratory tests to detect excessive alcohol consumption are limited by marginal sensitivity/specificity. Excessive drinking has been shown to affect several organ systems, which may be reflected in changes in quantity of plasma proteins. Our aim was to employ novel proteomic analyses to identify potential markers for excessive alcohol use. Methods: A prospective case-control study included 49 controls and 54 excessive drinkers (discovery cohort). The serum proteomic analyses in these subjects were performed, and the results were tested in the verification cohort (40 controls and 40 excessive drinkers). Results: Using the appropriate cutoff and confirmation with ELISA, we identified 4 proteins which were significantly elevated in the serum of excessive drinkers: AT-rich interactive domain-containing protein 4B (ARID4B), phosphatidylcholine-sterol acyltransferase (LCAT), hepatocyte growth factor-like protein (MST1), and ADP-ribosylation factor 6 (ARL6). The performance of the conventional markers (aspartate aminotransferase [AST], alanine aminotransferase [ALT], gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase [GGT], percentage of carbohydrate-deficient transferrin [%CDT], and mean corpuscular volume [MCV]) discriminating between excessive alcohol use and controls had an area under the curve (AUC) ranging from 0.21 (ALT) to 0.67 (MCV). The AUC of these novel proteins showed the improvement in the detection of excessive drinkers compared to conventional laboratory tests, ranging from 0.73 (for ARID4B) to 0.86 (for ARL6). Conclusions: We have identified 4 novel proteins that can discern subjects with excessive alcohol use. Further studies are needed to determine the clinical implications of these markers to detect excessive alcohol use and confirm abstinence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)556-565
Number of pages10
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015


  • Excessive Alcohol Use
  • LC/MS
  • Proteomics
  • Serum Markers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Toxicology

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