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Comparison of ethyl glucuronide in hair with phosphatidylethanol in whole blood as post-mortem markers of alcohol abuse
Department of Forensic Medicine, Lund, Sweden.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Forensic Genetics. Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Alcohol Laboratory, Karolinska Institute and Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.
Department of Forensic Medicine, Lund, Sweden.
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2008 (English)In: Forensic Science International, ISSN 0379-0738, E-ISSN 1872-6283, Vol. 176, no 1, 76-81 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) is a direct metabolite of ethanol and has been used as a marker of alcohol abuse in both urine and hair. This study investigated the value of EtG testing in post-mortem hair for diagnostic improvement of alcohol abuse in forensic medicine. Material from 70 consecutive medico-legal autopsies was collected in accordance with the recommendations on ethics by the Swedish National Board of Forensic Medicine. A method for determination of EtG in hair samples was developed using ultra performance liquid chromatography/electrospray tandem mass spectrometry (UPLC/ESI-MS/MS; LOQ, 2.5 pg/mg). The result of the EtG analysis was compared with the findings of phosphatidylethanol (PEth) in femoral whole blood, as measured by high performance liquid chromatography with an evaporative light-scattering detector (HPLC–ELSD; LOQ, 0.22 μmol/l). Evaluation of liver histology and anamnestic evidence of alcohol abuse of the deceased were taken in consideration for the interpretation. Measurable levels of EtG were present in 49 of the 70 autopsy cases whereas PEth was present in 36. Thirty-nine cases had EtG levels above the cutoff limit (≥30 pg/mg) compared with 29 for PEth (≥0.7 μmol/l). Fifteen cases had EtG as exclusive indicator for alcohol abuse compared with four cases for PEth. These findings suggest that measurements of EtG in hair may provide improved diagnostic information on alcohol abuse, due to a long retrospective time-window for detection and stability of EtG in hair in the decaying cadaver. However, an EtG level below the cutoff does not completely exclude previous alcohol abuse.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 176, no 1, 76-81 p.
Keyword [en]
Alcohol marker, Ethyl glucuronide, Forensic medicine, Hair, Phosphatidylethanol
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-46633DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2007.09.012OAI: diva2:267529
Available from: 2009-10-11 Created: 2009-10-11 Last updated: 2012-09-03Bibliographically approved

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