Does this test have other names?
Alanine aminotransferase, serum glutamic-pyruvic transaminase, SGPT
What is this test?
This test measures the amount of the enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT) in your blood.
ALT, formerly called SGPT, is mostly found in your liver cells. When liver cells are injured, they release this enzyme into your blood. High levels are a sign of liver damage.
This test is part of a group of tests commonly referred to as "liver function tests." Results of these tests give health care providers an overall picture of how well your liver is working.
Why do I need this test?
You may have this test to see if you have a liver disease, such as hepatitis. Symptoms of liver diseases include:
You may also have this test to look for cirrhosis, which causes damage and scarring to the liver. Causes of cirrhosis include long-term hepatitis infection, excessive alcohol use, obesity, and exposure to certain medications or toxins. Symptoms of cirrhosis include:
Abdominal swelling from fluid buildup
Visible blood vessels in the skin
Swelling of the legs, feet or ankles
Nausea, loss of appetite
Fatigue or feeling tired
What other tests might I have along with this test?
Your health care provider may also order other tests of liver health, including:
Alkaline phosphatase, or ALP
Aspartate aminotransferase, or AST
Prothrombin time, or PT
Your health care provider may also order other tests that measure:
What do my test results mean?
Many things may affect your lab test results. These include the method each lab uses to do the test. Even if your test results are different from the normal value, you may not have a problem. To learn what the results mean for you, talk with your health care provider.
ALT levels are normally less than 40 international units per liter (IU/L). Levels above 1,000 IU/L may be a sign of:
The ratio of AST to ALT may also provide helpful information to your health care provider. AST levels are normally lower than ALT levels. AST is often higher than ALT in cases such as:
A number of other medical conditions besides liver disease can also cause liver enzymes to rise. These include:
Adrenal gland problems
How is this test done?
The test requires a blood sample, which is drawn through a needle from a vein in your arm.
Does this test pose any risks?
Taking a blood sample with a needle carries risks that include bleeding, infection, bruising, or feeling dizzy. When the needle pricks your arm, you may feel a slight stinging sensation or pain. Afterward, the site may be slightly sore.
What might affect my test results?
Many medications can affect your test results, as can drinking alcohol.
How do I get ready for this test?
Your health care provider may ask you to not to eat or drink and avoid medications before your blood tests. Be sure your health care providers knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use.
- Bass, Pat F. III, MD, MPH
- Sather, Rita, RN