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The liver is the body’s chief “chemical factory” and performs many varied and complex tasks. The liver produces certain proteins such as albumin and the proteins that are involved in blood clotting. The liver also produces about half of the total cholesterol in the body (the other half comes from food). The liver filters blood from all over the body. Enzymes in the liver neutralize harmful or toxic substances such as alcohol or medications which are then eliminated in either bile or blood. The liver also serves as a storage site for sugars and lipids, which can be released when needed.
Liver disease is a term for a collection of conditions, diseases, and infections that affect the cells, tissues, structures, or functions of the liver. If the liver becomes inflamed or infected, its ability to perform these functions may be impaired. Liver disease and infections are caused by a variety of conditions including viral infections, bacterial invasion, and chemical or physical changes within the body. The most common cause of liver damage is malnutrition, especially that which occurs with alcoholism.
A liver (hepatic) function panel is a blood test to check how well the liver is working. High or low levels may mean that liver damage or disease is present.
ALT and AST are enzymes produced primarily in the liver, skeletal and heart muscle. ALT is present in the liver in a higher concentration than AST and is more specific for differentiating liver injury from muscle damage. Your result falls within the normal Reference Range and is not associated with liver disease.
ALT is an enzyme, a type of protein that promotes chemical reactions. ALT is found in the heart, kidneys, pancreas, and muscles with the highest amounts in the liver. Accordingly, it is most often used as a test of liver function. When the liver is damaged, ALT from liver cells is leaked into the blood circulation. Increases in ALT are associated with liver damage due to infections, such as the common types of viral hepatitis, and cirrhosis where the liver becomes scarred. ALT is used to detect the side effect of certain drugs that cause liver damage. ALT is often interpreted with other tests of liver function.
ALT levels within the reference range usually mean that there is no evidence of liver damage. Results are often interpreted with other tests of liver function.
The two enzymes AST and ALT are among the most common tests of liver function. When there is destruction of liver cells, the dying cells release AST and ALT into the bloodstream. Assessing the ratio of these two tests, when both are elevated, is sometimes useful in suggesting one type of liver disease over others. In many forms of liver damage such as fatty infiltration of the liver, the AST/ALT ratio is equal to or less than 1.0. In contrast, AST/ALT ratio greater than 2.0 is often associated with alcoholic hepatitis (destruction of liver cells due to chronic alcohol abuse). There is considerable overl ap among the different medical conditions that cause increases in the level of AST and ALT and their ratio so caution is advised.
Albumin is the most abundant protein in the blood circulation (approximately 60% of the total protein). It is produced by the liver. Albumin is important to maintain the necessary pressure within the blood vessels so that substances don’t leak out. Albumin binds to many other substances in the blood including other proteins, sugars, and drugs. Albumin levels can be slightly above the upper limit of the reference range. This has no clinical significance. Higher levels of albumin usually means the absence of associated diseases and malnutrition.
Globulin is not measured directly. It is calculated as the difference between the total protein and the albumin levels. The globulins are a group of about 60 different proteins that are part of the immune system, which helps to fight or prevent infections. They also play an important role in blood clotting, and serve as carrier proteins for hormones.
The Albumin Globulin Ratio is derived by dividing the albumin result by the globulin result. The calculated ratio sometimes highlights an abnormality that is not obvious by reviewing the individual test results. A high value is usually of no significance. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider if you have any questions about your result.
Alkaline phosphatase is an enzyme, a type of protein that promotes chemical reactions. Akaline phosphatase is found in many parts of the body including the bones, with the highest amounts in the liver. Accordingly, it is most often used as a test of liver function. When the liver is damaged, alkaline phosphatase from liver cells is leaked into the blood circulation. Increases in alkaline phosphatase are associated with liver damage due to obstruction liver disease (for example, caused by gallstones) fatty liver (for example, caused by excessive chronic alcoholic consumption), and cancer in the liver. Alkaline phosphatase is often increased in bone disease and cancers that spread to the bones. Levels can be increased by some drugs. Alkaline phosphatase is often interpreted with other tests of liver function.
Alkaline phosphatase levels within the reference range usually mean that there is no evidence of liver or bone damage or disease. Results are often interpreted with other tests of liver function.
Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) is a liver enzyme that is increased when there is restricted blood flow to the liver as in congestive heart failure, biliary obstruction as in gallstones, inflammation or destruction of the liver as in hepatitis, and in acute and chronic alcohol use. GGT is also correlated with risk of developing diabetes.
Bilirubin is the main pigment in bile and a major product of normal red cell breakdown. It is helpful in evaluating liver function, various anemias and in evaluating jaundice, yellowing of the skin. Bilirubin is the main pigment in bile and a major product of normal red cell breakdown. It is helpful in evaluating liver function, various anemias and in evaluating jaundice, yellowing of the skin.
Total protein has two main components, albumin and globulin. The body’s protein is derived from ingested food and therefore is influenced by the quality of diet, as well as by liver and kidney function.