The ratio of 5-hydroxytryptophol to 5-hydroxyindole-3-acetic acid (5HTOL/5HIAA) in urine was compared with concentrations of ethanol and methanol as a way to monitor recent alcohol consumption. During detoxification of alcohol-dependent subjects, ethanol persisted longer in urine than in breath or plasma. Blood and urinary methanol remained increased for 2-6 h after blood ethanol had returned to background concentrations, whereas 5HTOL/5HIAA remained increased for 6-15 h. In healthy volunteers who had ingested alcohol (range 3-98 g) the previous afternoon or evening, 87% (for men) and 59% (for women) of all drinking occasions exceeding 7 g of alcohol were identified by an increased 5HTOL/5HIAA in the first morning urine void. This compared with 32% and 12%, respectively, identified by analysis of ethanol (>200 micromol/L). No gender difference in the excretion pattern of 5HTOL/5HIAA was seen. The results demonstrate that 5HTOL/5HIAA provides a specific and more sensitive method to detect recent alcohol consumption than does ethanol or methanol.
- © 1996 The American Association for Clinical Chemistry