Test Detail
Overview
Interpreting Results
FAQ's

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Written by
Dr. Shreya Gupta
BDS, MDS - Oral and Maxillofacial Pathology
Reviewed by
Dr. Ashish Ranjan
MBBS, MD (Pharmacology)
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Alanine Transaminase

(ALT, SGPT)
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Alanine Transaminase
You need to provide
Blood
This test is for
Male, Female
Test Preparation
  1. No special preparation required

Overview


What is ALT, SGPT?

Alanine Transaminase (ALT) test is also known as Alanine aminotransferase test, Serum Glutamic-Pyruvate Transaminase, SGPT, and GPT. This test measures the levels of ALT in the blood. Alanine Transaminase is an enzyme which is found in the cells of the liver and kidney. It is done to screen any possible damage done to the liver. It basically checks the proper functioning of the liver.

Why is ALT, SGPT done?


  1. As a part of the liver function test

  2. To detect hepatitis 

  3. To detect damage to the liver due to drugs or substances toxic to the liver

  4. In case of signs or symptoms of liver disease like dark colored urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, and abdominal pain

  5. In case of increased risk of developing a liver disease like heavy drinking, exposure to hepatitis virus, or having a family history of liver disease


What does ALT, SGPT Measure?

Alanine Transaminase test measures the levels of alanine transaminase in the blood.  Alanine Transaminase is an enzyme which is found in liver and kidney cells. However, this enzyme, in less quantity, can be found in the muscles and the heart. Its function is to convert alanine (an amino acid found in proteins) to pyruvate (intermediate in cellular energy production). 

Generally, these levels of alanine transaminase in the blood remain low in healthy individuals. However, if there is any damage to the liver, alanine transaminase is released in the blood. This process helps in early detection of any damage to the liver. 

The function of the liver is to process the nutrients of the body. It also produces bile which helps in digesting fats along with the production of other important proteins such as blood clotting factors and albumin. The liver breaks the potentially toxic substances into harmless products which can be used or eliminated by the body. 

This test is done with another liver enzyme, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) as a part of the liver panel. In case of damage to the liver, there is a sudden rise in levels of both enzymes. However, alanine transaminase is more specific for the liver. In some cases, it is possible that only one of them is increased. The AST/ALT ratio can be calculated to differentiate between various causes and severity of the liver injury. This can also help to distinguish whether the injury is from damage to the liver or heart or muscles.


Interpreting ALT, SGPT results


Interpretations

ALT (SGPT), Serum  < 50 U/L

Reference range may vary from lab to lab*


  • Very high ALT levels (more than 10 times normal) are usually due to acute hepatitis which is generally caused due to a viral infection 

  • High ALT levels (four times normal) may be seen in chronic hepatitis, obstruction of bile ducts, or cirrhosis 

  • In most liver diseases, the ALT level is higher than AST and the AST/ALT ratio will be low (less than 1). The AST/ALT ratio is greater than 1 in alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, heart or muscle injury 

  • ALT is more specific than AST for liver disease


Answers to Patient Concerns & Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about ALT, SGPT


Frequently Asked Questions about Alanine Transaminase

Q. How is this test performed?
This test is performed on a blood sample. A syringe with a fine needle is used to withdraw blood from a blood vessel in your arm. The healthcare provider will tie an elastic band around your arm to make the blood vessels swell with blood. This makes it easier to withdraw blood. You may be asked to tightly clench your fist. Once the veins are clearly visible, the area is cleaned with an antiseptic solution and then the needle is inserted into the blood vessel to collect the sample. You will feel a tiny pinprick during the procedure. Blood sample once collected will then be sent to the laboratory.
Q. Is there any risk associated with this test?
There is no risk associated with the test. However, since this test involves a needle prick to withdraw the blood sample, in very rare cases, a patient may experience increased bleeding, hematoma formation (blood collection under the skin), bruising or infection at the site of needle prick.
Q. Is there any special preparation required for the test?
No, there is no special preparation required for the test.
Q. What are the signs and symptoms of a liver disorder?
The signs and symptoms of liver disorder include weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal swelling, abdominal pain, and jaundice. One may also notice dark colored urine, light-colored stool, itching, and swelling in the legs and ankles. They may also develop a tendency of getting bruised easily.
Q. In which cases, increased levels of alanine transaminase can be seen?
The increased levels of alanine transaminase can be seen in: - Person who has been exposed to hepatitis virus earlier - Person who is heavily alcoholic - Person having a family history of liver diseases - Person taking drugs which can cause damage to the liver - Person who is overweight or obese
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