Blog post by Steven Van Keuren - Published at May 06, 2023
Liver enzymes are proteins that help the liver function properly and they are produced in the liver. When the liver is damaged, these enzymes are released into the bloodstream.
AST and ALT are two of the most common liver enzymes. AST stands for aspartate aminotransferase and ALT stands for alanine aminotransferase. These enzymes are present in all body tissues, but they are found in higher concentrations in the liver. Alkaline phosphatase is another liver enzyme and is found in higher concentrations in the bile ducts.
Liver enzymes are important indicators of liver health. Elevated levels of AST, ALT, and alkaline phosphatase can be a sign of liver damage.2. AST, ALT, and Alkaline Phosphatase: What do they mean for liver health?
AST, ALT, and alkaline phosphatase are important indicators of liver health. Higher levels than normal can be an indication of damage so it is important to monitor these enzymes to get an indication of your liver health.
When AST is elevated, it could mean that a person has been drinking too much alcohol or that they are having a liver infection or liver inflammation. In addition, some medications and toxins can increase AST levels. ALT levels are usually higher in people with alcoholic liver disease or hepatitis, both of which can cause inflammation, damage, or scarring of the liver. Alkaline phosphatase is found in higher concentrations in the bile ducts. Its levels are usually higher in people with biliary obstruction, which can occur due to a tumor, gallstones, or other conditions.
Whether elevated or normal, these three liver enzymes provide insight into your liver health. A periodic screening of AST, ALT, and alkaline phosphatase is a beneficial tool for uncovering any potential problem with your liver health.3. AST and ALT: Enzymes that reflect liver damage.
It is essential to remember that AST and ALT are indicators of liver damage, not overall liver health. Even if your AST and ALT levels are at the lower range of normal, your liver may be damaged or diseased. Elevation in AST and ALT levels may be an indicator of a more serious condition, so it is important to monitor these levels closely.
AST and ALT may be slightly elevated in people with more serious liver diseases such as alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis, due to cell damage, inflammation, and intrahepatic biliary obstruction. Elevated levels of these liver enzymes can be an indicator of damage or dysfunction.
There are other factors that can influence the AST and ALT levels, such as obesity, genetic predisposition, or lifestyle habits such as the use of alcohol or medications that can harm the liver. Therefore, it is important to talk with your doctor if you notice any signs or symptoms of liver disease.4. Alkaline Phosphatase: a marker of bile duct obstruction
Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) can be a helpful indicator of liver health. ALP is an enzyme that is produced mostly in the liver and bile ducts. The enzyme is released into the blood when there is a bile duct blockage, the liver is inflamed, or the body breaks down old bile.
ALP is very sensitive to liver disease and may provide a very precise measure of bile duct obstruction. It increases significantly when a bile duct is mildly blocked, or obstructed due to the formation of gallstones. High levels of ALP may also be present in liver diseases such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and primary biliary cirrhosis.
An increase in ALP levels can indicate a blocked bile duct and your doctor may recommend an imaging test such as an ultrasound or a CT scan to locate the obstruction. The treatment for a blocked bile duct depends on the underlying cause. If the obstruction is due to gallstones, your doctor may suggest a procedure to remove the stones. In some cases, the doctor may prescribe medications to dissolve the stones or reduce the inflammation in the bile ducts.5. So, what do AST, ALT, and Alkaline Phosphatase mean for liver health?
AST (Aspartate Aminotransferase), ALT (Alanine Aminotransferase), and ALP (Alkaline Phosphatase) are proteins present in the liver, and they are linked to the body's metabolic activities.
AST is generated when muscles and other tissues are broken down. High levels of AST indicate acute injury or disease to the liver, cardiovascular muscle, or any other organ that needs repair or healing.
ALT is produced mostly in the liver. Since ALT is released into the bloodstream when the liver is under stress, high levels can signify inflammation, cirrhosis, and any kind of liver damage caused by infection, toxins, and alcohol.
Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is an enzyme that is generated in the bile ducts, the liver, and other organs. High levels of ALP indicate a bile duct blockage or inflammation, meaning that ALP is a helpful indicator of liver health.
High levels of AST, ALT, and ALP can be caused by a variety of different factors. The best way to ensure your liver is healthy is to consult a doctor about these lab test results for further evaluation.6. Takeaway messages
Keeping your liver healthy means more than avoiding too much alcohol and drugs. Testing your AST, ALT, and Alkaline Phosphate levels is an important part of ensuring your liver health is up to par.
Significant jumps in the levels of these enzymes may be an indication of the presence of certain medical conditions, so it is important to pay attention to any changes.
It is always important to pay attention to your liver health and get regular tests, know the normal ranges of the mentioned enzymes, and keep track of the values in your lab test results. This will help you maintain a healthy liver and reduce the risk of diseases down the line.