AST (aspartate aminotransferase) is an enzyme found in high amounts in heart muscle and liver and muscle cells. It is also found in lesser amounts in other tissues.
This article discusses the test to measure the amount of AST in the blood.
Aspartate aminotransferase; Serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase; SGOT
A blood sample is needed. For information on how this is done, see: Venipuncture
When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain, while others feel only a prick or stinging sensation. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.
The normal range is 10 to 34 IU/L.
Note: IU/L = international units per liter
Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.
The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.
Diseases that affect liver cells increase the levels of AST. However, increased levels of AST alone do not diagnose liver disease. Measuring ALT at the same time can help narrow the cause of the abnormal test results.
An increase in AST levels may be due to:
AST levels may also increase after:
Veins vary in size from one patient to another and from one side of the body to the other. Obtaining a blood sample from some people may be more difficult than from others.
Risks associated with having blood drawn are slight but may include:
AST levels may rise during pregnancy and after exercise.
Berk PD, Korenblat KM. Approach to the patient with jaundice or abnormal liver test results. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007:chap 150.
Pratt DS. Liver chemistry and function tests. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2010:chap 73.