Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST)

The Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) test contains 1 test with 1 biomarker.

Description: An AST blood test is a test that is used to screen for and diagnose liver disease.

Also Known As: Aspartate Aminotransferase Test, Serum Glutamic-Oxaloacetic Transaminase Test, SGOT Test Transaminase, Serum AST Test

Collection Method: Blood Draw

Specimen Type: Serum

Test Preparation: No preparation required

When is an Aspartate Aminotransferase test ordered?

When someone undergoes a standard health examination, an AST test may be requested as part of a full metabolic panel.

When a person exhibits indications and symptoms of a liver problem, an AST test may be ordered along with numerous other tests.

Because many persons with minor liver damage have no signs or symptoms, AST may be ordered alone or in combination with other tests for people who are at an elevated risk for liver disease.

When AST is used to evaluate the effectiveness of treatment for people with liver disease, it may be ordered on a frequent basis during the course of treatment.

What does an Aspartate Aminotransferase blood test check for?

Aspartate aminotransferase is an enzyme found in cells all over the body, but especially in the heart and liver, as well as the kidneys and muscles to a lesser amount. AST levels in the blood are typically low in healthy people. AST is released into the bloodstream when liver or muscle cells are damaged. As a result, AST can be used to detect or monitor liver disease.

The liver is a critical organ found directly behind the rib cage in the upper right side of the abdomen. It is engaged in a variety of vital bodily functions. The liver aids in the digestion of nutrients, creates bile to aid in fat digestion, manufactures numerous vital proteins such as blood clotting factors, and breaks down potentially hazardous compounds into safe substances that the body may utilize or expel.

A variety of disorders can harm liver cells and cause AST levels to rise. The test is most effective in detecting liver damage caused by hepatitis, liver-toxic medications, cirrhosis, or alcoholism. AST, on the other hand, is not particular to the liver and can be elevated in diseases affecting other organs.

Alanine aminotransferase testing is frequently combined with an AST test. When the liver is injured, both of these enzymes become high in the bloodstream. A computed AST/ALT ratio can help distinguish between different types of liver injury and determine whether elevated levels are due to something else, such as a heart or muscle injury.

Lab tests often ordered with an Aspartate Aminotransferase test:

  • GGT
  • ALT
  • ALP
  • Bilirubin
  • Hepatic Function Panel
  • Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP)
  • Albumin
  • Total Protein

Conditions where an Aspartate Aminotransferase test is recommended:

  • Liver Disease
  • Hepatitis
  • Jaundice
  • Alcoholism
  • Cirrhosis
  • Wilson Disease
  • Hemochromatosis

How does my health care provider use an Aspartate Aminotransferase test?

The aspartate aminotransferase blood test is commonly used to identify liver disease. It is frequently ordered in conjunction with alanine aminotransferase, another liver enzyme, or as part of a liver panel or comprehensive metabolic panel to screen for and/or diagnose liver problems.

Although ALT is more specific for the liver than AST and is more usually elevated than AST, both are regarded to be two of the most significant tests for detecting liver impairment. When AST is directly compared to ALT, an AST/ALT ratio is calculated. This ratio can be used to differentiate between different types of liver disease and hepatic harm from heart or muscle damage.

To assess which type of liver illness is present, AST levels are frequently compared to the results of other tests such as alkaline phosphatase, total protein, and bilirubin.

AST is frequently evaluated to monitor the treatment of people with liver disease, and it can be ordered alone or in combination with other tests.

AST is sometimes used to monitor persons who are receiving potentially hazardous drugs for the liver. If the person's AST levels rise, he or she may be moved to another medicine.

What do my AST test results mean?

Low AST levels in the blood are typical and anticipated.

Acute hepatitis and viral infections are the most common causes of very high AST values. AST values are normally elevated for 1-2 months after acute hepatitis, but they might take up to 3-6 months to recover to normal. AST levels can also be significantly high as a result of exposure to liver-toxic medications or other chemicals, as well as situations that produce reduced blood supply to the liver.

AST values are usually lower in chronic hepatitis, generally less than 4 times normal, and are more likely to be normal than ALT levels. With chronic hepatitis, AST levels typically fluctuate between normal and slightly elevated, so the test may be ordered repeatedly to detect the pattern. Other illnesses of the liver, particularly when the bile ducts are clogged, as well as cirrhosis and certain malignancies of the liver, can cause moderate increases. AST can also rise after a heart attack or a muscular damage, although to a far higher extent than ALT.

The AST test is frequently done in conjunction with the ALT test or as part of a liver panel. See the Liver Panel article for more information on AST values in relation to other liver tests.

The ALT level is usually greater than the AST level in most kinds of liver disease, and the AST/ALT ratio is low. There are a few exceptions: in alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, hepatitis C virus-related chronic liver disease, and the first day or two of acute hepatitis or injury from bile duct obstruction, the AST/ALT ratio is frequently elevated. AST levels are generally substantially higher than ALT after cardiac or muscle injury, and they tend to stay higher than ALT for longer than they do after liver injury.

We advise having your results reviewed by a licensed medical healthcare professional for proper interpretation of your results.

The following is a list of what is included in the item above. Click the test(s) below to view what biomarkers are measured along with an explanation of what the biomarker is measuring.

Also known as: Aspartate Aminotransferase AST, AST, SGOT


AST (aspartate aminotransferase) is an enzyme found in high amounts in liver, heart, and muscle cells. It is also found in lesser amounts in other tissues.
*Process times are an estimate and are not guaranteed. The lab may need additional time due to weather, holidays, confirmation/repeat testing, or equipment maintenance.

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