Carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) is widely accepted as screening test for excessive alcohol consumption. However, results from subjects with transferrin variants must be interpreted with caution since chromatography-based methods may give false-positive results. Furthermore, due to the co-elution in HPLC or the co-migration in capillary zone elctrophoresis (CZE) of the di- and trisialylated C transferrins with the tetrasialylated D peak, exact measurement of CDT is impossible in CD-variants. Therefore, in this study, we tried to offer a different solution, including only the asialo-D, asialo-C, monosialo-D, monosialo-C, disialo-D and trisialo-D transferrins in the CDT calculation and referring to a different cut-off value for CDT in transferrin CD-variants. Comparison of alcohol consumers with teetotalers demonstrated area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.79 and 0.76 for carbohydrate-deficient transferrin, 0.71 and 0.71 for mean corpuscular volume and 0.51 and 0.68 for γ-glutamyltransferase in 43 subjects with transferrin CD-variants and 225 subjects with CC-phenotypes, respectively. Since false-positive carbohydrate-deficient transferrin results due to a transferrin CD-variant have major social implications, capillary electrophoresis-based or similar methods (HPLC, FPLC) should be preferred in populations carrying a high D-allele frequency.
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