Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) for Monitoring Sobriety in Liver Transplant Candidates: Preliminary Results of Differences Between Alcohol-Related and Non-Alcohol-Related Cirrhosis Candidates
BACKGROUND Monitoring sobriety is mandatory for liver transplant (LT) candidates with alcohol-related cirrhosis in Germany. Prior to listing, abstinence of 6 months is required. However, little is known about biomarker performance in alcohol-related cirrhosis. Routine testing of ethyl glucuronide in urine (uEtG) or hair (hEtG) is prone to manipulation or is unfeasible in anuria. Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) in dried-blood spots is a promising alternative. We compared PEth with routine parameters and self-reports in alcohol-related and non-alcohol-related cirrhosis at our transplant center. MATERIAL AND METHODS All patients received self-report questionnaires (AUDIT & TLFB). Blood, urine and hair samples, as well as PEth dried-blood spots were drawn at baseline. In addition, survival analyses were conducted. RESULTS Out of 66 patients, 53 were listed for LT and 13 were candidates not listed so far. An alcohol-use disorder was found in 25 patients. Positive results for uEtG, hEtG, and PEth were found in 5/65, 9/65, and 34/66 cases, respectively. PEth positivity was found in 52% of patients with alcohol-related cirrhosis, while 53% of patients with other liver diseases were positive. While uEtG, hEtG, and TLFB correlated with higher PEth values, active waiting list status was significantly correlated with negative PEth values. During the mean follow-up of 41.15 months, 23 patients were transplanted (34.9%). None of the biomarkers significantly predicted survival. CONCLUSIONS PEth can importantly assist abstinence monitoring in LT candidates due to its high validity and objectivity. The high percentage of patients with alcohol consumption in the non-alcoholic liver disease cohort underscores the importance of testing all transplant candidates.