Understanding Your Liver Profile: part 2 of 3

The liver profile is a  standard set of blood tests because the liver does do much for us.  The numbers in this set of blood test results give so much information on the metabolic functions of the body as a basic screening test.

The symptoms of elevated liver enzymes should never be ignored.  Your doctor will want to do some more evaluation and discussion to find the cause of an abnormality in these labs.

Apartate Aminotransferase (AST):  AST is an enzyme mainly present in the live, and like ALT found in other tissues to a lesser extent.  AST readings are typically low unless one of these tissue are damaged and then releases this enzyme into the blood stream.  Low readings are generally a sign of good health.  In combination with ALT, AST is predominantly used to identify liver damage and disease.  AST blood levels are generally 5 to 10 percent higher in African American men compared to Caucasian men, while obese men often display mildly elevated AST.  Finally, moderate exercise can increase AST to almost three time the normal limit for up to twenty four hours.

Ranges for AST can vary between laboratories but typically normal is typically:  5-40 IU/L.

Alamine Aminotransferase (ALT):  An enzyme found in the liver and , to a lesser extent, in the muscles, heart, kidneys and pancreas which along with aspartate aminotranferase, is one of the most important tests used to determine liver damage or disease.

Normal range:  0 to 40 IU/L women, 0 to 55 men

Alkaline Phosphatase (Alk Phos or ALP):  Produced mainly in bone and liver, with small amounts from the kidneys, intestine and, if pregnant, the placenta.  Elevated levels are seen with bone tumors and liver disease but normal elevation of ALP can be seen with broken bones, pregnancy or skeletal growth (children).

Normal range:  age-dependent.

ALP levels should always be measured after fasting (not eating for 6-8 hours) as good ingesting can raise ALP levels as much as 30 IU/L.  Because ALP elevation can be linked to a variety of serious health conditions, your doctor will want to determine the reason behind a high reading.

Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase (GGT):  Found in numerous tissues throughout the body but is considered a marker for liver damage in conjunction with ALP levels.  If both ALP and GGT are high, bile duct disease or liver disease is suspected.  If ALP is raised but GGT is not , bone disease is considered more likely.  GGT is also very sensitive to alcohol use.  GGT levels very from day to day and its activity decreases immediately after eating, and ranges differ slightly according to gender.

Reference Ranges:  Men – 0 to 65 IU/L   Women- 0 to 45 IU/L



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