BACKGROUND Carbohydrate deficient transferrin (CDT) is widely accepted as the most specific biomarker of chronic alcohol abuse. CDT is the collective name of minor glycoforms of Tf including, traditionally, asialo- and disialo-Tf. Asialo-Tf is characterized by low concentrations hampering its detectability. It is expected that IFCC1 will soon recommend the exclusion of asialo-Tf from the computation of CDT to help standardization. However, in our opinion, asialo-Tf could provide precious additional information to confirm, e.g. in a forensic context, an elevated CDT result, merely based on disialo-Tf. On this basis, in view of a re-evaluation of the potential of asialo-Tf as an additional biomarker of alcohol abuse, the purpose of our investigation was to compare the two most popular separative techniques, i.e. CE and HPLC, in their ability to detect asialo-Tf in real serum samples. METHODS Samples: 25 serum samples from subjects undergoing screening for alcohol abuse were analyzed in parallel with CE and HPLC. Analysis: CE and HPLC methods according to ref. 2. Statistics: Data were analyzed by using non-parametric and parametric statistics. RESULTS Correlation between asialo- and disialo-Tf. CE: y = 0.311 x – 0.330, r2 = 0.524 (n=25); HPLC: Scarce number of asialo-Tf detected (n=5) Correlation between CE and HPLC to determine disialo-Tf: y = 1.177 x – 0.158, r2 = 0.970 (n=25) Detection ability for asialo-Tf. CE: 25 out 32 (range detected 0.10 – 3.78); HPLC: 5 out 32 (range detected 0.51 – 1.61) Separation efficiency [N = 5.54 · (tr / w1/2)2].CE: 51,000 pl; HPLC: 4,200 pl CONCLUSIONS Notwithstanding a comparable performance of CE and HPLC in the determination of disialo-Tf, the ability of CE to detect asialo-Tf proved clearly superior. In fact, CE offers a neatly better separation efficiency of Tf glycoforms, providing sharper and more detectable peaks. In addition, the asialo-Tf peak is located in a very flat region of the electropherogram, far from other potentially interfering peaks. The present results strongly support the use of CE in further studies exploring the potential of asialo-Tf as an additional, important biomarker of alcohol abuse. REFERENCES 1 Helander A et al. Clin Chim Acta 2016; 459:19-24. 2 Bortolotti F et al. Clin Chem 2005; 51:2368-71.
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