Classification of alcohol abuse by plasma protein biomarkers

Willard M. Freeman, Anna C. Salzberg, Steven W. Gonzales, Kathleen A. Grant, Kent E. Vrana

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    23 Scopus citations


    Background: Biochemical diagnostics of ethanol intake would improve alcohol abuse treatment and have applications in clinical trial and public safety settings. Self-reporting of alcohol use has clinical utility but lacks the desired reliability. Previously, proposed single-analyte biochemical tests of alcohol intake suffer from low sensitivity and specificity or examine only acute drinking and have therefore seen limited clinical use. Methods: To address this unmet need, plasma protein biomarker discovery and validation were performed with an alcohol self-administering nonhuman primate model system to develop a diagnostic that accurately classifies subjects into nondrinking, nonabusive drinking, and abusive drinking categories. Results: A 17-plasma protein panel was determined that correctly classifies abusive drinking with 100% sensitivity and also differentiates any level of drinking from alcohol abstinence with 88% accuracy. Conclusions: The biomarker panel reflects changes in multiple organ systems and suggests robust changes in the plasma proteome with drinking that might serve as a sensitive and specific diagnostic test. The specific plasma proteins altered with alcohol self-administration might represent indicators of alcohol-induced stress on a variety of organ systems.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)219-222
    Number of pages4
    JournalBiological Psychiatry
    Issue number3
    StatePublished - Aug 1 2010


    • Alcohol abuse
    • alcoholism
    • biomarker
    • diagnostic
    • nonhuman primate
    • proteomics

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biological Psychiatry


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