The Analysis of Carbohydrate-Deficient Transferrin, Marker of Chronic Alcoholism, Using Capillary Electrophoresis

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Carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) is currently considered to be the best available marker for the diagnosis of chronic alcoholism. A large variety of methods have been developed, demonstrating the need for standardisation. Commercially available anion-exchange chromatographic-based assays are easy to use and require no specialised, expensive instruments. However, these methods cannot identify genetic transferrin variants or the carbohydrate-deficient glycoprotein syndrome. In 1989, a capillary isoelectric focusing method was developed for quantitative measurement of CDT. Despite the optimal resolution, this method is not easily applied in a clinical routine environment due to the complexity of analysis. Capillary electrophoresis in a polymer network using coated capillaries allowed full resolution of the sialoforms of human transferrin. The drawbacks due to an expensive and time-consuming sample preparation were eliminated when a method in neat serum was developed. Capillary zone electrophoresis allowed full resolution of the transferrin isoforms with a high analytical performance in a short analysis time thanks to a strong electroosmotic flow. Genetic transferrin variants were easily detected, avoiding false-positive results. Also, using capillary zone electrophoresis, it was shown that CDT is a suitable marker of chronic alcohol abuse detection in transferrin CD (common/cathodal) variants. Clin Chem Lab Med 2003; 41 (6): 739–746

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