Elevated Liver enzymes

Liver is an essential organ in the human body. It helps to detoxify the toxic materials in the body. Liver enzymes are proteins that speed up the chemical reaction in the liver. It helps in metabolism, filtration and excretion and also provides storage. There are four kinds of separate liver enzymes like alanine aminotransferase (ALT or SGPT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST or SGOT), which are known together as transaminases, and gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT) and alkaline phosphatase (AP), which are known together as cholestatic liver enzymes. Liver diseases are caused by slightly elevated liver enzymes.

These enzymes are normally found in the cells of the liver which leak out and mix with the blood when these cells are injured. Elevated liver enzymes in liver infection are a common trend in liver diseases. AST and ALT are associated with inflammation to liver cells. This condition is known as hepatocellular liver injury. A high level of AST does not always reflect that there is a liver problem. Thus, sometimes vigorous exercising causes elevated liver enzymes levels. Increase in levels of ALT and AST can have many clinical implications. This might be due to active cirrhosis, metastatic liver tumor, toxic hepatitis, severe burns, heart attack, trauma, pancreatitis, anemia, gangrene or shock.

High levels of GGT and AP can be due to a possible blockage of the bile ducts or possible injury to the bile ducts. This type of problem is characterized by failure of bile flow. GGT is predominantly found in liver and AP is mainly found in the bones and liver. Elevated levels of AP and GGT indicate that there is something wrong with the liver.

It should be noted that GGT can be elevated without AP; the reason for this is that GGT is sensitive to alcohol ingestion and some other hepatotoxic drugs. Though it is not specific why people who smoke cigarettes have higher levels of GGT and AP than nonsmokers. Elevated AP and GGT can be due to some causes which are alcoholic liver disease, liver tumors, primary biliary cirrhosis, primary sclerosing cholangitis; drug induced liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and gallstones. There are some common liver examinations that can be prescribed by the doctor are CT scan which is a specific x ray test to see the cross sectional view of the organs, ERCP (Endoscopic Retrograde Cholangiopancreatography) by which the doctor using a long and narrow tube can see the liver, pancreas and gallbladder, then comes the liver biopsy which is a sample test of the liver tissue to see the amount of damage occurred in the liver. However there are certain drugs that the doctor can prescribe for instance Diuretics also known as “water pills” to treat fluid accumulation and Pain medicine are given to lower pain if you have any.