Aims: Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) is a commonly used marker of ethanol abuse. However, although increasing age has also been suggested to elevate serum GGT activities, the magnitude of such effects on GGT in the assessment of ethanol intake have remained poorly defined.
Methods: GGT activities from 208 heavy drinkers were compared with those from a reference population including 1330 moderate drinkers and 1160 abstainers, who were further classified to following age intervals: 18-30, 30-50, 50-70, and >70 years.
Results: GGT activities increased with increasing age until after 70 years decreasing values were noted in male abstainers. The heavy drinkers belonging to age groups 18-30, 30-50, and 50-70 years showed 2.7-, 8.0-, and 6.9-fold higher mean GGT activities than those in the corresponding groups of abstainers, respectively. The values in the group of moderate drinkers also exceeded those of abstainers in all age groups of men, whereas in women the difference was significant only among those aged 18-30 years.
Conclusions: The data indicate that GGT activities respond to ethanol intake in an age-dependent manner, which should be considered in the clinical use of GGT measurements for detecting alcohol use disorders.