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How much alcohol is needed to test positive for PEth?

Liz Wood AlphaBiolabs

 

By Liz Wood, Health Testing Specialist at at AlphaBiolabs
Last reviewed: 30/03/2023

Because phosphatidylethanol (PEth) is a direct biomarker of alcohol, it is the most accurate blood test to determine alcohol abuse.

But how much alcohol is needed to test positive for PEth? The quantity of alcohol consumed affects PEth in a fairly straightforward manner. High levels of alcohol consumption produce high concentrations of PEth. Low alcohol consumption leads to low PEth concentrations.

Drinking experiments show that PEth can be detected in blood after 1–2 hours following a single drinking episode. This PEth detection can also last for up to 12 days. PEth production begins as soon as ethanol is consumed and peaks within 8 h after alcohol ingestion. Once formed, it degrades very slowly, which is important for its use as an alcohol biomarker.

In addition, PEth can clearly distinguish daily alcohol consumption of more than 60 g ethanol from lower alcohol consumption. One unit of alcohol is defined as 8 g of pure alcohol. As a comparison, the other blood alcohol tests of MCV (mean corpuscular volume), carbohydrate‐deficient transferrin (CDT) and liver function tests (LFT) generally require the daily consumption of over 60 g/day of alcohol over several weeks to cause clinically significant elevations. This means that PEth testing can detect chronic as well as single-drinking episodes.

The table below shows the range of PEth levels that can be measured in AlphaBiolabs’ blood alcohol testing.

PEth level < 10 µg/LAbstinence or very low alcohol consumption in the past month.
PEth level 10–35 µg/LLow/occasional alcohol consumption in the past month.
PEth level 35–210 µg/LPEth level 35–210 µg/L Social/moderate alcohol consumption in the past month.
PEth level > 210 µg/LExcessive alcohol consumption in the past month.

In terms of all alcohol tests, PEth is second to the detection of ethyl glucuronide (EtG  – another direct metabolite of ethanol) in hair alcohol testing. However, PEth analysis has the advantage of allowing faster verification as to whether an individual has changed their drinking behaviour.

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Liz Wood AlphaBiolabs

Liz Wood

Health Testing Specialist at at AlphaBiolabs

Liz joined AlphaBiolabs in 2021, where she holds the role of Health Testing Specialist.

As well as overseeing a range of health tests, she is also the lead on several validation projects for the company’s latest health test offerings.

During her time at AlphaBiolabs, Liz has played an active role in the validation of the company’s Genetic Lactose Intolerance Test and Genetic Coeliac Disease Test.

An advocate for preventative healthcare, Liz’s main scientific interests centre around human disease and reproductive health. Her qualifications include a BSc in Biology and an MSc in Biology of Health and Disease.

 

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