Salivary Exoglycosidases as Markers of Alcohol Dependence

Background: Some salivary markers of alcohol abuse/dependence have been proposed so far: aminotransferases, gamma-glutamyltransferase, ethanol, ethyl glucuronide, ethyl sulfate, sialic acid, β-hexosaminidase A, oral peroxidase, methanol, diethylene/ethylene glycol, α-amylase, clusterin, haptoglobin, heavy/light chains of immunoglobulins and transferrin. Aim: To investigate the effect of chronic alcohol drinking and smoking on the activity (pKat/ml) and output (pKat/min) of salivary lysosomal exoglycosidases: α-fucosidase (FUC), α-mannosidase (MAN), β-galactosidase (GAL), and β-glucuronidase (GLU), and their applicability as markers of alcohol dependence. Methods: The activity of FUC, MAN, GAL and GLU was measured colorimetrically in the saliva of healthy social drinkers, alcohol-dependent non-smokers and alcohol-dependent smokers. Results: We observed an increased salivary activity of FUC, GAL, GLU and MAN, as well as an increased output of GAL and GLU, in comparison with controls. The highest increase in the activity/output was found in salivary GLU and MAN (GLU, even 7- to 18-fold), and the least in GAL. We found an excellent sensitivity and specificity and a high accuracy (measured by the area under the ROC curve) for salivary FUC, GLU and MAN activities. The salivary GLU activity positively correlated with the number of days of last alcohol intoxication. Salivary activity of FUC, GAL and MAN, but not GLU, positively correlated with the periodontal parameters such as gingival index and papilla bleeding index. Conclusions: Although we found an excellent sensitivity and specificity as well as a high accuracy for the salivary activity of FUC, GLU and MAN, the GLU activity seems to be mostly applicable as a marker of chronic alcohol drinking (alcohol dependence).