Comparison of the combined marker GGT-CDT and the conventional laboratory markers of alcohol abuse in heavy drinkers, moderate drinkers and abstainers

Alcohol Alcohol. 2006 Sep-Oct;41(5):528-33. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agl050. Epub 2006 Jun 23.


Aims: A combined index based on gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) and carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) measurements (GGT-CDT) has been recently suggested to improve the detection of excessive ethanol consumption. The aim of this work was to compare GGT-CDT with the conventional markers of alcohol abuse in individuals with a wide variety of alcohol consumption.

Methods: A cross-sectional and follow-up analysis was conducted in a sample of 165 heavy drinkers, consuming 40-540 g of ethanol per day, and 86 reference individuals who were either moderate drinkers (n = 51) or abstainers (n = 35).

Results: GGT-CDT (5.35 +/- 1.08) in the heavy drinkers was significantly higher than in the reference individuals (3.30 +/- 0.37). The sensitivity of GGT-CDT (90%) in correctly classifying heavy drinkers exceeded that of CDT (63%), GGT (58%), mean corpuscular volume (MCV) (45%), aspartate aminotransferase (AST) (47%), and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (50%), being also essentially similar for alcoholics with (93%) or without (88%) liver disease. When comparing the data using either moderate drinkers or abstainers as reference population, the sensitivity of GGT-CDT, CDT, and ALT remained unchanged whereas the sensitivity of GGT, MCV, and AST was found to show variation.

Conclusions: GGT-CDT improves the sensitivity of detecting excessive ethanol consumption as compared with the traditional markers of ethanol consumption. These findings should be considered in the assessment of patients with alcohol use disorders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Alcohol-Related Disorders / blood*
  • Alcoholism / blood*
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • Temperance*
  • Transferrin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Transferrin / metabolism
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / blood*


  • Biomarkers
  • Transferrin
  • carbohydrate-deficient transferrin
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase