Elevated liver enzymes may indicate inflammation or damage to cells in the liver. Inflamed or injured liver cells leak higher than normal amounts of certain chemicals, including liver enzymes, into the bloodstream, which can result in elevated liver enzymes on blood tests.
The specific elevated liver enzymes most commonly found are:
- Alanine transaminase (ALT)
- Aspartate transaminase (AST)
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)
- Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT)
Elevated liver enzymes may be discovered during routine blood testing. In most cases, liver enzyme levels are only mildly and temporarily elevated. Most of the time, elevated liver enzymes don't signal a chronic, serious liver problem.
Many diseases and conditions can contribute to elevated liver enzymes. Your doctor determines the specific cause of your elevated liver enzymes by reviewing your medications, your signs and symptoms and, in some cases, other tests and procedures.
If a blood test reveals you have elevated liver enzymes, ask your doctor about what your test results might mean. Your doctor may suggest you undergo other tests and procedures to determine what's causing your elevated liver enzymes.
June 16, 2017
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- Tapper EB, et al. Extensive testing or focused testing of patients with elevated liver enzymes. Journal of Hepatology. 2017;66:313.