what is alanine transaminase (alt)?
alanine transaminase (alt), also known as alanine aminotransferase, is an enzyme found primarily in the liver, although it exists in other parts of the body.
An enzyme is a type of protein in a cell that acts as a catalyst and allows certain body processes to occur. there are thousands of enzymes throughout the body that have important functions.
what is an alternative blood test?
an alanine transaminase (alt) blood test measures the amount of alt in the blood. Alt levels in your blood can increase when your liver is damaged, so health care providers often use an alt blood test to help assess the health of your liver.
Because many types of liver problems can cause alt levels to rise, health care providers don’t use the test just to diagnose conditions. An alternative blood test is most often included in a panel of blood tests, such as a liver enzyme panel (HFP or LFT) or a comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP). A blood panel measures various aspects of your blood with one sample and can provide more detailed information about your overall health.
Common names for an alternative blood test include:
- alanine transaminase (alt).
- alanine aminotransferase.
- serum glutamic-pyruvic transaminase.
- excessive alcohol consumption.
- family history of liver disease.
- inject drugs using shared needles.
- nausea and/or vomiting.
- pain in the belly (abdominal).
- itchy skin.
- jaundice (a yellowish discoloration of the skin and whites of the eyes).
- tiredness (fatigue).
- loss of appetite.
how is alanine transferase (alt) different from aspartate transferase (ast)?
aspartate transferase (ast) is another enzyme that is often measured along with aspartate in a liver function panel or comprehensive metabolic panel. both of these enzymes can leak into your bloodstream when certain cells in your body are damaged.
ast and alt are commonly considered liver enzymes, but greater amounts of ast are found in other parts of the body, such as the heart, skeletal muscles, and pancreas. Because of this, alt is considered to be more directly related to the health of your liver, but health care providers use both measures to assess the health of your liver.
why do I need an alternative blood test?
The purpose of an alternative blood test is to help assess the health of your liver. If your liver cells are damaged, it can cause alt to leak into your blood, so an alt blood test can help find liver problems.
Your health care provider may order a blood panel test that includes an alternate test to help detect, monitor, or help diagnose liver conditions.
Screening means checking for possible health problems before you experience symptoms. Your healthcare provider will likely recommend a liver panel blood test screening that includes an alternative test if you have risk factors for liver disease, including:
since alt tests are often included in routine blood work tests that assess your overall health, such as a comprehensive metabolic panel (cmp), you may be given an alt test even if you don’t have risk factors for liver disease.
If you have a liver condition, your provider may order an alternative test, often as part of a panel, to monitor your condition and see if it improves, worsens, or stays the same with or without treatment. Your provider may also ask you to have an alt test and a liver enzyme panel test if you are taking a medication that may affect the health of your liver.
Your provider may use an alternative diagnostic test when you experience signs and symptoms of possible liver problems. Although providers cannot diagnose a condition based on alt levels alone, it can be an important part of the diagnostic process.
Signs and symptoms of liver conditions include: