Does carbohydrate-deficient transferrin predict the severity of alcohol withdrawal syndrome?

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1998 Aug;22(5):1053-6.


Alcohol withdrawal often causes severe complications. However, many addicts deny any abuse. Thus, the diagnosis of alcohol abuse frequently becomes difficult. Laboratory parameters are often used to support the diagnosis of alcohol abuse. Furthermore, laboratory parameters should facilitate the prediction of the severity of alcohol withdrawal syndrome (AWS). The most promising laboratory parameter indicating a recent elevated alcohol consumption is carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT). The aim of this study was to examine whether the measurement of CDT at admission can indicate a higher risk for the development of a complicated AWS. The severity of AWS was assessed by the AWS scale, consisting of two subscales for somatic and mental symptoms. CDT was measured by different methods (radioimmunoassay and HPLC). The radioimmunoassay for CDT (CDTect) yielded the best prediction. Our results showed a weak correlation between CDTect and the severity of AWS. However, there were great gender differences. In men, CDTect had the highest positive predictive value for a severe AWS (86.7%), whereas in women mean corpuscular volume was the best predictor (77.8%). However, the sensitivity of CDTect in men (25.5%), as well as mean corpuscular volume in females (29.2%), was too low for a screening test in a general hospital.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium / blood
  • Alcohol Withdrawal Delirium / diagnosis*
  • Alcoholism / blood
  • Alcoholism / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination*
  • Prognosis
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Transferrin / analogs & derivatives*
  • Transferrin / metabolism


  • Transferrin
  • carbohydrate-deficient transferrin