Optimized spectrophotometric determination of aldehyde dehydrogenase activity in erythrocytes

R. D. Johnson, J. Bahnisch, B. Stewart, D. J C Shearman, J. B. Edwards

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We describe a reliable and sensitive semiautomated spectrophotometric assay of aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH; EC activity in erythrocytes. The hemolysate can be stabilized with sucrose, and the technique involves only microliters of hemolysate on a centrifugal analyzer. The use of microcolumns to remove interfering hemoglobin is avoided, and repraducibility of the assay has been improved by manipulating the inherent lactate dehydrogenase activity of erythrocytes by adding lactate and oxalate to the reaction mixture. These modifications have decreased the analytical imprecision of the assay, allowing a better appraisal of aldehyde dehydrogenase activity in erythrocytes as a biological marker of excess alcohol consumption. Erythrocytic ALDH activity was significantly less in 40 alcoholics than in 145 teetotallers (median activity 128 vs 219 mU/g of hemoglobin, respectively; P = 0.0001), indicating the potential of this assay as a useful marker of excess alcohol consumption.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)584-588
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Chemistry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Apr 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Alcoholism
  • Centrifugal analyzer
  • Lactate dehydrogenase
  • Marker of alcohol abuse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry

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