Accuracy of a Glycerol Dehydrogenase Assay for Ethylene Glycol Detection

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Introduction: Ethylene glycol (EG) is a frequently considered toxicant in poisoned patients. Definitive diagnosis relies on gas chromatography (GC), but this is unavailable at most hospitals. A glycerol dehydrogenase (GDH)-based assay rapidly detects EG. A rapid turnaround time and wide availability of necessary instrumentation suggest this method could facilitate the rapid detection of EG. Methods: This is a prospective, observational analysis of banked, remnant serum samples submitted to the laboratory of a large, multi-hospital healthcare system. Samples were submitted over a 12-month period for the explicit purpose of testing for suspected EG ingestion. All samples underwent GC and the GDH-based assay. Results: Of the 118 analyzed samples, 88 had no EG detected by GC, and 30 were “positive.” At the manufacturer’s threshold of 6 mg/dL EG, there was 100% (95%CI; 88.7–100) positive percent agreement (PPA) and 98% (92.1-99.6) negative percent agreement (NPA). Adjusted to a threshold of 9 mg/dL, both the PPA and NPA were 100%. Deming regression of the observed concentrations revealed a slope of 1.16 (1.01 to 1.32) and intercept of −5.3 (−8.9 to −1.7). Conclusions: The GDH assay provides a sensitive and specific method for the detection and quantification of EG that is comparable to a GC-based method. More widespread use of this rapid, inexpensive assay could improve the care of patients with suspected toxic alcohol exposure. Further study is needed to evaluate the test performance in real-time patient treatment decisions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-367
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Medical Toxicology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2023


  • Ethylene glycol
  • Gas chromatography
  • Glycerol dehydrogenase
  • Screening
  • Toxic alcohols


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