Aims: Carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (%CDT) is a well-established and highly specific biomarker for sustained heavy consumption of alcohol. However, in pregnant women, the specificity of this biomarker might be affected by advanced gestational age, even after accounting for increased transferrin concentrations in pregnancy. The goal of this prospective study was to assess the variability in %CDT during pregnancy among alcohol-abstaining patients. Methods: Patients were recruited during one of the first prenatal care visits and followed-up to term. Abstinence was confirmed by maternal self-report and by alcohol biomarkers. Biomarkers assessed in the mother included serum gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase, urine ethyl glucuronide and ethyl sulfate, and whole blood phosphatidylethanol (PEth). In addition, PEth was measured in a dry blood spot card obtained from a newborn. For %CDT analysis, serum samples were collected at baseline and at term and analyzed by an internationally validated high-performance liquid chromatography and spectrophotometric detection method. Results: At recruitment (mean gestational age 22.6 ± 7.3 weeks), the mean %CDT concentration was 1.49 ± 0.30%, while at term, it increased to 1.67 ± 0.28% (P = 0.001). Using a conventional cutoff concentration %CDT >1.7%, 22.9 and 45.7% of the sample would be classified as ‘positive’ for this biomarker at recruitment and at term, respectively (P = 0.011 ). Conclusion: These results suggest that a conventional cutoff of 1.7% might be too low for pregnant women and would generate false-positive results. We propose that %CDT >2.0% be used as a cutoff concentration indicative of alcohol exposure in pregnant women. The sensitivity of %CDT at this cutoff for heavy drinking during pregnancy needs to be assessed further.
Aims: To examine the influence of country-level characteristics and individual socio-economic status (SES) on individual alcohol-related consequences. Methods: Data from 42,655 men and women collected by cross-sectional surveys in 25 countries of the Gender, Alcohol and Culture: An International Study study were used. The individual SES was measured by the highest attained educational level. Alcohol-related consequences were defined as the self-report of at least one internal or one external consequence in the last year. The relationship between individuals’ education and alcohol-related consequences was examined by meta-analysis. In a second step, the individual level data and country data were combined in multilevel models. As country-level indicators, we used the purchasing power parity of the gross national income (GNI), the Gini coefficient and the Gender Gap Index. Results: Lower educated men and women were more likely to report consequences than higher educated men and women even after controlling for drinking patterns. For men, this relation was significant for both internal and external problems. For women, it was only significant for external problems. The GNI was significantly associated with reporting external consequences for men such that in lower income countries men were more likely to report social problems. Conclusion: The fact that problems accrue more quickly for lower educated persons even if they drink in the same manner can be linked to the social or environmental dimension surrounding problems. That is, those of fewer resources are less protected from the experience of a problem or the impact of a stressful life event.
Aims: Intermittent access (IA) to an alcohol (ethanol) solution can lead rats to higher ethanol intakes than continuous access, and a recent report showed increased drinking in C57BL/6J mice offered 20% ethanol vs. water 3X/week (Prior studies have offered ethanol during 24 h periods, either continuously or intermittently.). Methods: We tested the high-preference C57BL/6J inbred mice: we also studied High Drinking in the Dark (HDID) mice, a line we have selectively bred to reach intoxicating blood ethanol levels after a short period of access to a single bottle of 20% ethanol. Results: Neither HDID or C57BL/6J male mice offered ethanol every other day during only a 4-h access period showed greater daily intake than mice offered ethanol daily for 4 h. There was a small increase in drinking with 24 h IA in C57BL/6J mice. An experiment with HDID mice and their control heterogeneous stock stock modeled closely after a published study with C57BL/6J mice (Hwa, Chu, Levinson SA et al. Persistent escalation of alcohol drinking in C57BL/6J mice with intermittent access to 20% ethanol. Alcohol Clin Exp Res 2011;35:1938–1947) showed no significant elevation with 24 h IA exposure in either sex of any genotype. Finally, a near replication of the Hwa et al. study showed modestly greater intake in C57BL/6J mice, confirming the efficacy of 24 h IA. Conclusion: We conclude that 4 h of IA is likely insufficient to elevate drinking in mice. The lack of effect in HDID mice and their controls further suggests that not all genotypes respond to intermittency.
Aims: The purpose of this study was to determine whether animals predisposed to prefer alcohol possess an altered acute response to alcohol on a delay discounting task relative to animals predisposed to avoid alcohol. Methods: We used rats selected to prefer or avoid alcohol to assess whether genotype moderates changes in delay discounting induced by acute ethanol exposure. Selectively bred rat lines of Sardinian alcohol-preferring (sP; n = 8) and non-preferring (sNP; n = 8) rats, and alko alcohol (AA, n = 8) and alko non-alcohol (ANA, n = 8) rats were trained in an adjusting amount task to assess delay discounting. Results: There were no significant effects of line on baseline discounting; however, both lines of alcohol-preferring rats exhibit slowed reaction times. Acute ethanol (0, 0.25, 0.5 g/kg) treatment also had no effect on delay discounting in any of the selectively bred rat lines. Conclusion: Our data indicate that in these lines of animals, alcohol preference or avoidance has no impact on delay discounting following acute ethanol exposure. It is possible that other genetic models or lines may be differentially affected by alcohol and exhibit qualitatively and quantitatively different responses in delay discounting tasks.
Aims: Acute alcohol intoxication itself may act as a trigger for suicidal thoughts and attempts among individuals at risk and may influence the potential lethality of the suicide attempt. This study in alcohol-dependent patients compared the correlates of suicide attempts during a heavy drinking episode with those of suicide attempts during relative sobriety. Methods: In two outpatient and two residential alcohol treatment programs in Warsaw, Poland, 113 patients who reported a suicide attempt during their lifetime were interviewed. The analyses focused on the patients’ most serious suicide attempts and on whether these occurred during a heavy drinking episode. Results: Over two-thirds of the patients reported that their most serious suicide attempt occurred during a period of heavy drinking. A multivariable logistic model indicated that the following factors significantly distinguished those patients whose most serious suicide attempt occurred during a heavy drinking episode: male gender, younger current age, greater severity of alcohol dependence and the attempt being unplanned. Conclusion: Among the patients in treatment for alcohol dependence who made a suicide attempt, the most serious attempt was likely to have been unplanned and committed by men when it occurred during a heavy drinking episode.
Aims: The aim of this study was to determine the effect of chronic ethanol feeding on acetylation of histone H3 at lysine 9 (H3-Lys9) at promoter and coding regions of genes for class I alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH I), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS), Bax, p21, c-met and hepatocyte growth factor in the rat liver. Methods: Rats were fed ethanol-containing liquid diet (5%, w/v) for 1–4 weeks. The global level of acetylation of H3-Lys9 in the liver was examined by western blot analysis. The levels of mRNA for various genes were measured by real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. The association of acetylated histone H3-Lys9 with the different regions of genes was monitored by chromatin immunoprecipitation assay. Results: Chronic ethanol treatment increased mRNA expression of genes for iNOS, c-jun and ADH 1. Chronic ethanol treatment did not cause increase in global acetylation of H3-Lys9, but significantly increased the association of acetylated histone H3-Lys9 in the ADH I gene, both in promoter and in coding regions. In contrast, chronic ethanol treatment did not significantly increase the association of acetylated histone H3-Lys9 with iNOS and c-jun genes. Conclusion: Chronic ethanol exposure increased the gene-selective association of acetylated H3-Lys9 in the absence of global histone acetylation. Thus, not all genes expressed by ethanol are linked to transcription via histone H3 acetylation at Lys9.
Aims: To investigate the influence of ethnic drinking cultures on alcohol use by Asian Americans and how this influence may be moderated by their level of integration into Asian ethnic cultures. Methods: A nationally representative sample of 952 Asian American adults extracted from the Wave 2 National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions data was used. Multiple logistic and linear regression models were fitted, some of which were stratified by nativity. Results: Controlling for financial stress, discrimination and demographic variables, a hypothesized, positive relationship between ethnic drinking cultures and alcohol outcomes held for most drinking outcomes. A hypothesis on the moderating effect of integration into ethnic cultures indicated by ethnic language use was supported for US-born Asian Americans. Conclusion: Ethnic drinking cultures may significantly influence alcohol use by Asian Americans. The influence of ethnic drinking cultures may be conditioned by the degree of integration into the ethnic cultures. To inform alcohol interventions for reducing harmful and hazardous alcohol use among immigrants, future research needs to explore the cultural and social processes occurring in immigrant communities that might significantly influence drinking.
Aims: A number of screening instruments are routinely used in Emergency Department (ED) situations to identify alcohol-use disorders (AUD). We wished to study the psychometric features, particularly concerning optimal thresholds scores (TSs), of four assessment scales frequently used to screen for abuse and/or dependence, the cut-down annoyed guilty eye-opener (CAGE), Rapid Alcohol Problem Screen 4 (RAPS4), RAPS4-quantity-frequency and AUD Identification Test (AUDIT) questionnaires, particularly in the sub-group of people admitted for acute alcohol intoxication (AAI). Methods: All included patients [AAI admitted to ED (blood alcohol level ≥0.8 g/l)] were assessed by the four scales, and with a gold standard (alcohol dependence⁄abuse section of the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview), to determine AUD status. To investigate the TSs of the scales, we used Youden's index, efficiency, receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve techniques and quality ROC curve technique for optimized TS (indices of quality). Results: A total of 164 persons (122 males, 42 females) were included in the study. Nineteen (11.60%) were identified as alcohol abusers alone and 128 (78.1%) as alcohol dependents (DSM-IV). Results suggest a statistically significant difference between men and women (P < 0.05) in performance of the screening tests RAPS4 (≥1) and CAGE (≥2) for detecting abuse. Also, in this population, we show an increase in TSs of RAPS4 (≥2) and CAGE (≥3) for detecting dependence compared with those typically accepted in non-intoxicated individuals. The AUDIT test demonstrates good performance for detecting alcohol abuse and/or alcohol-dependent patients (≥7 for women and ≥12 for men) and for distinguishing alcohol dependence (≥11 for women and ≥14 for men) from other conditions. Conclusion: Our study underscores for the first time the need to adapt, taking into account gender, the thresholds of tests typically used for detection of abuse and dependence in this population.
Aims: It is unclear whether co-morbid anxiety disorders predict worse drinking outcomes during attempts to change drinking behavior. Studies have yielded mixed results, and have rarely examined drinking outcomes based on a specific type of anxiety disorder. Women with alcohol use disorders (AUDs) are of particular interest as they are at risk for co-morbid anxiety [Kessler et al. (1997) Lifetime co-occurrence of DSM-III-R alcohol abuse and dependence with other psychiatric disorders in the national co-morbidity survey. Arch Gen Psychiat
54:313–21]. Methods: Participants were 260 women with AUDs participating in an alcohol-treatment outcome studies. The Timeline Follow-Back was used to assess drinking frequency (percent days drinking) prior, within and 6 months post-treatment. The current study tested the hypothesis that having at least one lifetime anxiety disorder diagnosed at baseline using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM Disorders would be associated with more drinking at all study time points. Exploratory analyses examined patterns of drinking outcomes by specific anxiety diagnoses. Results: Lifetime anxiety diagnosis was linked to poorer drinking outcomes post-treatment (β = 0.15, P = 0.020), despite less frequent drinking prior to treatment. Analyses by specific anxiety diagnosis indicated that generalized anxiety disorder predicted poorer drinking outcomes within treatment (β = 0.14, P = 0.018) and during follow-up (β = 0.16, P = 0.014). Conclusion: Co-morbid anxiety problems complicate treatment for AUDs among women. Further, specific anxiety disorders should be evaluated as distinct constructs as evidenced by the differential outcomes related to generalized anxiety disorder. Implications for treatment development for women with AUDs are discussed.
To describe the extent and nature of price discounts on alcohol in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
An observational survey in stores licensed for off-sales in December 2010 to January 2011.
A total of 2018 price discounts in 29 stores led to a median saving of 25% and required a median purchase of 20 standard UK alcohol units. Median price per standard unit was £0.92 (US$1.49; €1.05) before discount and £0.68 (US$1.10; €0.78) after discount.
Restriction of price discounting should be considered as a public health policy.
Aims: To mimic, in an animal model of alcoholism, the protective phenotype against alcohol consumption observed in humans carrying a fast alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH1B*2) and an inactive aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH2*2). Methods: We developed a multiple expression cassette adenoviral vector (AdV-ADH/asALDH2) encoding both a fast rat ADH and an antisense RNA against rat ALDH2. A control adenoviral vector (AdV-C) containing intronic non-coding DNA was also developed. These adenoviral vectors were administered intravenously to rats bred as high alcohol-drinkers (University of Chile bibulous) that were previously rendered alcohol dependent by a 75-day period of voluntary 10% ethanol intake. Results: Animals administered AdV-ADH/asALDH2 showed a 176% increase in liver ADH activity, whereas liver ALDH2 activity was reduced by 24%, and upon the administration of a dose of ethanol (1 g/kg, i.p.), these showed arterial acetaldehyde levels that were 400% higher than those of animals administered AdV-C. Rats that received the AdV-ADH/asALDH2 vector reduced by 60% their voluntary ethanol intake versus controls. Conclusion: This study provides evidence that the simultaneous increase of liver ADH and a reduction of ALDH activity by gene transfer could constitute a potential therapeutic strategy for the treatment of alcoholism.
Aims: To assess cross-level interactions between neighborhood and individual socioeconomic status (SES) on alcohol consumption and problems, and investigate three possible explanations for such interactions, including the double jeopardy, status inconsistency and relative deprivation hypotheses. Methods: Data from the 2000 and 2005 US National Alcohol Surveys were linked to the 2000 US Census to define respondent census tracts as disadvantaged, middle-class and advantaged. Risk drinking (consumption exceeding national guidelines), monthly drunkenness and alcohol problems were examined among low-, middle- and high-SES past-year drinkers (n = 8728). Gender-stratified, multiple logistic regression models were employed, and for outcomes with a significant omnibus F-test, linear contrasts were used to interpret interactions. Results: Cross-level SES interactions observed for men indicated that residence in advantaged neighborhoods was associated with markedly elevated odds of risk drinking and drunkenness for low-SES men. Linear contrasts further revealed a nearly 5-fold increased risk for alcohol problems among these men, relative to middle-SES and high-SES men also living in advantaged neighborhoods. Among women, neighborhood disadvantage was related to increased risk for alcohol problems, but there were no significant SES interactions. These findings did not support theories of double jeopardy and status inconsistency. Conclusion: Consistent with the relative deprivation hypothesis, findings highlight alcohol-related health risks among low-SES men living in affluent neighborhoods. Future research should assess whether this pattern extends to other health risk behaviors, investigate causal mechanisms and consider how gender may influence these.
Aims: To assess the effectiveness and acceptability of a brief community-based educational program on changing the drinking pattern of alcohol in a rural community. Methods: A longitudinal cohort study was carried out in two rural villages in Sri Lanka. One randomly selected village received a community education program that utilized street dramas, poster campaigns, leaflets and individual and group discussions. The control village had no intervention during this period. The Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT) was used to measure the drinking pattern before and at 6 and 24 months after the intervention in males over 18 years of age in both villages. The recall and the impact of various components of the intervention were assessed at 24 months post-intervention. Results: The intervention was associated with the development of an active community action group in the village and a significant reduction in illicit alcohol outlets. The drama component of the intervention had the highest level of recall and preference. Comparing the control and intervention villages, there were no significant difference between baseline drinking patterns and the AUDIT. There was a significant reduction in the AUDIT scores in the intervention village compared with the control at 6 and 24 months (P < 0.0001). Conclusions: A community-based education program had high acceptance and produces a reduction in alcohol use that was sustained for 2 years.
The 2012 UK Government's Alcohol Strategy for England and Wales has been welcomed broadly and resulted only in muted criticism within the UK public health community. This is despite strong continuities with previous alcohol industry constructions of the nature of the problem and preferred policy responses. This is probably because the strategy shows progress on the public health lobby's key issue of pricing of alcohol beverages. There are, however, many problems with the wider content of the strategy, showing little interest in much needed industry regulation other than on price, and an absence of commitment to investment in research. Some dilemmas posed for the research community are discussed.
Aims: To assess the validity and reliability of using alcohol retail sales data to measure and monitor population levels of alcohol consumption. Methods: Potential sources of bias that could lead to under- or overestimation of population alcohol consumption based on alcohol retail sales data were identified and, where possible, quantified. This enabled an assessment of the potential impact of each bias on alcohol consumption estimates in Scotland. Results: Overall, considering all the possible sources of overestimation and underestimation, and taking into account the potential for sampling variability to impact on the results, the range of uncertainty of consumption during 2010 was from an overestimate of 0.3 l to an underestimate of 2.4 l of pure alcohol per adult. This excludes the impacts of alcohol stockpiling and alcohol sold through outlets not included in the sampling frame. On balance, there is therefore far greater scope for alcohol retail sales data to be underestimating per adult alcohol consumption in Scotland than there is for overestimation. Conclusion: Alcohol retail sales data offer a robust source of data for monitoring per adult alcohol consumption in Scotland. Consideration of the sources of bias and a comprehensive understanding of data collection methods are essential for using sales data to monitor trends in alcohol consumption.
Aims: Teenagers in the UK report some of the highest rates of alcohol use in Europe. We identify patterns of alcohol use in early adolescence and relate these to hazardous and harmful alcohol use at age 16. Methods: In a UK birth cohort, we analysed repeated measures of alcohol use from age 13 to 15 in a sample of 7100 adolescents. Data on drinking frequency and typical consumption when drinking were modelled separately using a pair of latent class models. Classes of alcohol-use behaviour were contrasted across a range of risk factors and then to hazardous and harmful alcohol use as assessed using the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test scale at age 16. Results: Heterogeneity in drinking frequency and consumption could each be captured with three classes corresponding to low, medium and high levels. In total, 14.2% were classified as high-frequency and 8.9% as high consumption alcohol users. Socio-demographic factors, maternal substance use and the young persons' use of tobacco and cannabis were associated with class membership. At age 16, 29% were drinking hazardously and a further 5.6% were assessed as harmful drinkers. Young people in the high drinking frequency or consumption class had a 9-fold increased risk of reporting harmful drinking at age 16. Conclusions: By the age of 16, a substantial proportion of teenagers in this sample were drinking at levels that could be considered hazardous or harmful for an adult. Patterns of alcohol exposure in early adolescence were strongly associated with later alcohol use. Altering drinking patterns in middle adolescence has the potential to reduce harmful use in later adolescence.