Institut für Rechtsmedizin

Laufende Projekte

“Studies on Phosphatidylethanol - a promising biomarker for the detection of harmful ethanol consumption - and its possible use for abstinence monitoring"


Prof. Wolfgang Weinmann, Forensische Toxokologie und Chemie, Institut für Rechtsmedizin, Universität Bern


Prof. Wolfgang Weinmann, Forensische Toxokologie und Chemie, Institut für Rechtsmedizin, Universität Bern
Alexandra Schröck, Forensische Toxokologie und Chemie, Institut für Rechtsmedizin, Universität Bern
Dr. med. Matthias Pfäffli, Verkehrsmedizin, - psychiatrie und -psychologie, Insitut für Rechtsmedizin, Universität Bern
Prof. Dr. Annette Thierauf-Emberger, Institut für Rechtsmedizin Freiburg, Deutschland


Förderinstitution: Schweizerischen Stiftung für Alkoholforschung (Gesuch 254)
Förderungsdauer: 10.2014 - 10.2015, IRM Bern: ab 11.2015
Förderbeitrag: CHF 70'000.-


As harmful drinking is a main problem in contemporary society – especially in road traffic safety – alcohol biomarkers detectable in body fluids can give information about risky drinking habits and alcohol abuse. Therefore, biomarkers are for example used for the medical evaluation of the driving aptitude after drunken driving and withdrawal of the driving license.

A new biomarker in this field is the phospholipid phosphatidylethanol (PEth). It is already detectable after single consumption of about 50 g ethanol – which we could show recently in a preliminary pilot study. An LC-MS/MS method has been developed, which allows the detection and quantification of several PEth homologues at concentrations down to 10 ng/mL, and which has the potential for being used in clinical laboratories on a large scale. Correlations found for PEth and for other biomarkers are promising. As PEth has an elimination half time of four to ten days in blood, it is possible to detect regular risky drinking behavior, as well as alcohol abuse, also when - due to fast elimination - low or no blood alcohol concentrations are found. Furthermore, dried blood spots can be used for analysis of PEth, but need to be evaluated for capillary blood by method comparison.

Gegenüberstellung der Alkoholkonsummarker und deren Nachweisfenster: Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) lässt sich nach regelmässigem starken Konsum noch mehrere Wochen nachweisen und ist bereits nach einmaligem Konsum (bis 1 Promille) mehrere Tage nachweisbar, wie neueste Trinkversuche zeigten.