Serum and saliva levels of sialic acid are elevated in alcoholics.

  • Pönniö M
  • Alho H
  • Heinälä P
 et al. 
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BACKGROUND AND METHODS: Recently, sialic acid has been suggested as a potential marker for alcohol abuse. In this study, social drinkers and alcoholics were analyzed with a modified version of Warren's method for sialic acid and traditional markers of alcohol abuse in serum (n = 38; n = 87), saliva (n = 36; n = 29), and urine (n = 37; n = 83), respectively. The alcoholics were participating in an alcohol dependency treatment program and were followed in this study for 5 weeks. RESULTS: The sialic acid concentrations in female and male alcoholics were significantly higher in serum (p < 0.001;p < 0.001 respectively) and saliva (p < 0.05; p < 0.05) but not in urine, compared with social drinkers. The diagnostic efficiency of serum sialic acid was higher than that for traditional markers: 77% for female subjects and 64% for male subjects. The corresponding results for saliva were 72% and 53%. The sialic acid concentrations were significantly decreased during the alcohol dependency treatment program (after 5 weeks of treatment) in both females and males. CONCLUSIONS: This study confirms that serum sialic acid is a valuable marker for detecting and monitoring alcohol abuse. This work also indicates that sialic acid in saliva could be used possibly as a noninvasive marker for alcohol abuse.

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  • Maritta Pönniö

  • Hannu Alho

  • Pekka Heinälä

  • Seppo T Nikkari

  • Pekka Sillanaukee

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