Serum metabolomic analysis reveals several novel metabolites in association with excessive alcohol use – an exploratory study

Published:November 03, 2021DOI:
      Appropriate screening tool for excessive alcohol use (EAU) is clinically important as it may help providers encourage early intervention and prevent adverse outcomes. We hypothesized that patients with excessive alcohol use will have distinct serum metabolites when compared to healthy controls. Serum metabolic profiling of 22 healthy controls and 147 patients with a history of EAU was performed. We employed seemingly unrelated regression to identify the unique metabolites and found 67 metabolites (out of 556), which were differentially expressed in patients with EAU. Sixteen metabolites belong to the sphingolipid metabolism, 13 belong to phospholipid metabolism, and the remaining 38 were metabolites of 25 different pathways. We also found 93 serum metabolites that were significantly associated with the total quantity of alcohol consumption in the last 30 days. A total of 15 metabolites belong to the sphingolipid metabolism, 11 belong to phospholipid metabolism, and 7 metabolites belong to lysolipid. Using a Venn diagram approach, we found the top 10 metabolites with differentially expressed in EAU and significantly associated with the quantity of alcohol consumption, sphingomyelin (d18:2/18:1), sphingomyelin (d18:2/21:0,d16:2/23:0), guanosine, S-methylmethionine, 10-undecenoate (11:1n1), sphingomyelin (d18:1/20:1, d18:2/20:0), sphingomyelin (d18:1/17:0, d17:1/18:0, d19:1/16:0), N-acetylasparagine, sphingomyelin (d18:1/19:0, d19:1/18:0), and 1-palmitoyl-2-palmitoleoyl-GPC (16:0/16:1). The diagnostic performance of the top 10 metabolites, using the area under the ROC curve, was significantly higher than that of commonly used markers. We have identified a unique metaboloic signature among patients with EAU. Future studies to validate and determine the kinetics of these markers as a function of alcohol consumption are needed.


      ALT (Alanine aminotransferase), AST (Aspartate aminotransferase), AUDIT (Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test), CDT (Carbohydrate deficient transferrin), EAU (Excessive alcohol use), GGT (Gamma glutamyl transpeptidase), MCV (Mean corpuscular volume of erythrocytes), NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism), SUR (Seemingly Unrelated Regressions)
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