Elevated liver enzymes often 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, elevating liver enzymes on blood tests.
The elevated liver enzymes most commonly found are:
- Alanine transaminase (ALT)
- Aspartate transaminase (AST)
- Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)
- Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT)
Elevated liver enzymes might 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 cause 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 what the results might mean. Your doctor might suggest you undergo other tests and procedures to determine what's causing your elevated liver enzymes.
March 05, 2020
- Friedman LS. Approach to the patient with abnormal liver and biochemical function tests. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Jan. 17, 2020.
- Kwo PY, et al. ACG clinical guideline: Elevation of abnormal liver chemistries. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2017; doi:10.1038/ajg.2016.517.
- Lab Tests Online. Liver panel. https://labtestsonline.org/tests/liver-panel. Accessed Jan. 17, 2020.