Researchers find CDT biomarker ineffective for identifying unhealthy alcohol use

June 20, 2011

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have found that among HIV-infected adults with alcohol problems, measuring their carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) biomarker was a poor and inaccurate method for detecting unhealthy drinking. These findings currently appear on-line in AIDS Care.

Unhealthy alcohol use is common in HIV-infected persons. It can interfere with HIV , may lower CD4 cell count and can cause hepatic injury. Furthermore, HIV co-infection with is common and both HIV and viral hepatitis are adversely impacted by alcohol. For these reasons, detection of unhealthy alcohol use is important in the clinical care of HIV-infected individuals.

Some clinicians are interested in having a laboratory test that can detect unhealthy alcohol use. Although CDT, often measured as %CDT, can detect very heavy drinking, whether it does so in people with HIV in a clinically useful manner has yet to be established. The researchers evaluated the ability of %CDT and gamma glutamyltransferase to detect three levels of unhealthy : "at-risk", "heavy" and "frequent heavy" drinking as determined by the reference standard Timeline Followback questionnaire.

Of the 300 subjects, 103 reported current consumption at "at-risk" amounts, and 47 reported "heavy" amounts. For "at-risk" drinking, sensitivity of %CDT was 28 percent, meaning the test detected only 28 percent of those with unhealthy alcohol use.
For "heavy" drinking, sensitivity was 36 percent. According to the researchers, these findings suggest that %CDT is not sufficiently sensitive for use in screening for unhealthy alcohol use by people with .

"There is evidence that early intervention for unhealthy alcohol use can be effective but early clinical signs are often missed and unhealthy alcohol use often goes undiagnosed by HIV ," explained principal investigator Jeffrey Samet, MD, MA, MPH, a professor of medicine at BUSM. "Unfortunately among HIV-infected adults with , %CDT had poor overall accuracy for detecting unhealthy drinking," he added.

Samet and his colleagues believe the next steps for research might include testing other biomarkers for this purpose. "Numerous self-report questionnaires have been validated for detecting unhealthy alcohol use. In the mean time, these will likely remain the least expensive, most accurate and most easily implemented tools for screening patients with HIV for unhealthy alcohol use," said senior author Richard Saitz, MD, MPH, FACP, FASAM, a professor of medicine at BUSM.

Explore further: HIV infection may be a risk factor for heart failure

Related Stories

HIV infection may be a risk factor for heart failure

April 25, 2011
Patients with HIV infection without a prior history of coronary heart disease may be at a higher risk of developing heart failure, according to a report in the April 25 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Recommended for you

High-fat diet in pregnancy can cause mental health problems in offspring

July 21, 2017
A high-fat diet not only creates health problems for expectant mothers, but new research in an animal model suggests it alters the development of the brain and endocrine system of their offspring and has a long-term impact ...

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.