Phosphatidylethanol homologs in blood as biomarkers for the time frame and amount of recent alcohol consumption

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) is a minor metabolite of ethanol, a phospholipid that is synthesized, stored in membranes of red blood cells (RBCs), and measured in whole blood samples. A unique feature of its pharmacokinetics in RBCs is the lack of a critical catabolic enzyme, which is unlike all other cell types studied. The elimination half-life of PEth is 4-7 days, which provides a window of detection up to 28 days during abstinence. Using high-performance liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectroscopic detection, PEth levels can be detected in whole blood samples even after a single standard alcohol drink (14 g ethanol). There are 48 known homologs of PEth in RBCs. PEth 16:0/18:1 is predominant, representing about 37% of total PEth. PEth 16:0/18:2 and 16:0/20:4 are additional homologs with different pharmacokinetic characteristics to more accurately estimate amount and time frame of alcohol consumption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationNeuroscience of Alcohol
Subtitle of host publicationMechanisms and Treatment
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780128131251
ISBN (Print)9780128131268
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • PEth 16:0/18:1
  • PEth 16:0/18:2
  • PEth 16:0/20:4

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine
  • General Neuroscience


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