International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 115, Issue 3, pp 158–161

Phosphatidylethanol in post-mortem blood as a marker of previous heavy drinking


  • P. Hansson
    • County of Halland Clinical Chemistry and Blood Services, 30185 Halmstad, Sweden e-mail:, Tel.: +46-35-131585, Fax: +46-35-131820
  • A. Varga
    • Department of Medical Neurochemistry, Lund University, Sweden
  • P. Krantz
    • Department of Forensic Medicine, Lund University, Sweden
  • C. Alling
    • Department of Medical Neurochemistry, Lund University, Sweden
Case report

DOI: 10.1007/s004140100206

Cite this article as:
Hansson, P., Varga, A., Krantz, P. et al. Int J Leg Med (2001) 115: 158. doi:10.1007/s004140100206


Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) is an ethanol-phospholipid adduct, formed via non-oxidative metabolism of ethanol. PEth was measured in femoral blood from 85 consecutive forensic autopsies and was detected in 35 of the cases at concentrations ranging from 0.8 to 22.0 μmol/l. Of the PEth positive cases, 12 did not have significant levels of ethanol in the blood. Two cases (both suicides involving hanging) had detectable ethanol, but no PEth present in the blood. We conclude that measurements of PEth provide indications of previous alcohol abuse in cases where this may not otherwise be evident.

Keywords PhosphatidylethanolAlcoholismDiagnosisForensicAutopsy

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2001