Hepatic Function

The Hepatic Function panel evaluates how well your liver is working. This test measures the blood levels of total protein, albumin, bilirubin, and liver enzymes. Order from Ulta Lab Tests and learn about your health today.

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Serum albumin measurements are used in the monitoring and treatment of numerous diseases involving those related to nutrition and pathology particularly in the liver and kidney. Serum albumin is valuable when following response to therapy where improvement in the serum albumin level is the best sign of successful medical treatment. There may be a loss of albumin in the gastrointestinal tract, in the urine secondary to renal damage or direct loss of albumin through the skin. More than 50% of patients with gluten enteropathy have depressed albumin. The only cause of increased albumin is dehydration; there is no naturally occurring hyperalbuminemia

Serum alkaline phosphatase levels are of interest in the diagnosis of hepatobiliary disorders and bone disease associated with increased osteoblastic activity. Moderate elevations of alkaline phosphatase may be seen in several conditions that do not involve the liver or bone. Among these are Hodgkin's disease, congestive heart failure, ulcerative colitis, regional enteritis, and intra-abdominal bacterial infections. Elevations are also observed during the third trimester of pregnancy.

When the Total Alkaline Phosphatase activity is increased, the Isoenzymes are useful in determining the source of the increased activity.

This assay is intended for use in the assessment of risk for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with chronic liver disease.

IMPORTANT - The specimen for this test must be collected at a patient service center that can collect, store and transport frozen samples as outlined below.  

IMPORTANT: Before ordering this lab test, check and confirm with the selected patient service center to ensure that they can collect, store and transport frozen samples as outlined below.

Preferred Specimen(s) 

2 mL frozen plasma collected in an EDTA (lavender-top) tube

Collection Instructions 

Collect blood from stasis-free vein of patient (e.g., no tourniquet). Patient should not clench fist during collection, as muscular exertion often increases venous ammonia levels. Patient should avoid smoking prior to phlebotomy since smoking increases plasma ammonia levels. Tubes should be filled completely and kept tightly stoppered at all times. Place immediately on ice. Separate plasma from cells within 20 minutes and freeze plasma immediately.

Transport Temperature 


Specimen Stability 

Room temperature: Unstable
Refrigerated: Unstable
Frozen -20° C: 72 hours
Frozen -70° C: 7 days

Reject Criteria 

Hemolysis • Lipemia • Received thawed • PPT Potassium EDTA (white-top) tube

Clinical Significance

Ammonia is one of the by-products of protein metabolism. Elevated blood ammonia levels have been associated with severe liver dysfunction such as hepatic encephalopathy, coma resulting from cirrhosis, severe hepatitis, Reye's syndrome, and drug hepatotoxicity. Also, elevated blood ammonia has been reported in cardiac failure, azotemia, and pulmonary emphysema. Correlation between plasma ammonia and the degree of encephalopathy can be erratic.

Testing for anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (P-ANCA and/or C-ANCA and/or atypical P-ANCA) has been found to be useful in establishing the diagnosis of suspected vascular diseases, inflammatory bowel disease, as well as other autoimmune diseases.

AST is widely distributed throughout the tissues with significant amounts being in the heart and liver. Lesser amounts are found in skeletal muscles, kidneys, pancreas, spleen, lungs, and brain. Injury to these tissues results in the release of the AST enzyme to general circulation. In myocardial infarction, serum AST may begin to rise within 6-8 hours after onset, peak within two days and return to normal by the fourth or fifth day post infarction. An increase in serum AST is also found with hepatitis, liver necrosis, cirrhosis, and liver metastasis.

An increase in serum bile acids concentration in the fasting state or postprandial is considered to be a specific indicator of liver disease. A decreased level indicates bile acid malabsorption, possibly due to ileal dysfunction.

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Measurement of the levels of bilirubin is used in the diagnosis and treatment of liver, hemolytic, hematologic, and metabolic disorders, including hepatitis and gall bladder obstruction. The assessment of direct bilirubin is helpful in the differentiation of hepatic disorders. The increase in total bilirubin associated with obstructive jaundice is primarily due to the direct (conjugated) fraction. Both direct and indirect bilirubin are increased in the serum with hepatitis.

Measurement of the levels of bilirubin is used in the diagnosis and treatment of liver, hemolytic, hematologic, and metabolic disorders, including hepatitis and gall bladder obstructive disease

Measurement of the levels of bilirubin is used in the diagnosis and treatment of liver, hemolytic, hematologic, and metabolic disorders, including hepatitis and gallbladder obstructive disease.

Elevated in jaundice of the newborn, obstructive jaundice

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Decreased levels of ceruloplasmin are found in Wilson''s Disease, fulminant liver failure, intestinal malabsorption, renal failure resulting in proteinuria, chronic active hepatitis and malnutrition. Elevated levels are found in primary biliary cirrhosis, pregnancy (first trimester), oral contraceptive use and in acute inflammatory conditions since ceruloplasmin is an acute phase reactant

A Complete Blood Count (CBC) Panel is used as a screening test for various disease states including anemia, leukemia and inflammatory processes.

A CBC blood test includes the following biomarkers: WBC, RBC, Hemoglobin, Hematocrit, MCV, MCH, MCHC, RDW, Platelet count, Neutrophils, Lymphs, Monocytes, Eos, Basos, Neutrophils (Absolute), Lymphs (Absolute), Monocytes(Absolute), Eos (Absolute), Basos (Absolute), Immature Granulocytes, Immature Grans (Abs)

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Copper is an essential element that is a cofactor of many enzymes. Copper metabolism is disturbed in Wilson's disease, Menkes disease, primary biliary cirrhosis, and Indian childhood cirrhosis. Copper concentrations increase in acute phase reactions and during the third trimester of pregnancy. Copper concentrations are decreased with nephrosis, malabsorption, and malnutrition. Copper concentrations are also useful to monitor patients, especially preterm newborns, on nutritional supplementation. Results of copper are often interpreted together with ceruloplasmin.

The DCP assay is intended for in vitro diagnostic use as an aid in the risk assessment of patients with chronic liver disease for progression to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in conjunction with other laboratory findings and clinical assessment.

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Useful in the diagnosis of hypochromic, microcytic anemias. Decreased in iron deficiency anemia and increased in iron overload.

More than fifty million people worldwide have chronic liver disease. These individuals deal with Wilson's disease, hepatitis, cirrhosis, and more.

Unfortunately, these kinds of conditions can lead to death if they're not diagnosed and treated early. The earlier you catch it, the better your outcome will be.

Even if you aren't a heavy drinker, you should worry about your liver health. Many non-drinkers still develop liver issues.

To check your liver health, you need a hepatic function panel. Hepatic function blood tests can help identify whether or not you have liver disease or are at risk for developing it.

Keep reading to learn more.

What Is Hepatic Function Decline?

Hepatic function decline refers to a decrease in your liver's ability to function properly. The liver is a football-sized organ that lies just under the rib cage on the right side of your abdomen. It's essential to digestion and filtering.

Your liver is the organ that filters toxins like alcohol out of your system.

Due to genetic and environmental conditions, some people take damage to their livers. Over time, too much damage can lead to liver failure. Unfortunately, this can lead to a decline in quality of life and may even lead to death.

Risk Factors for Hepatic Function Decline

Since liver function depends on your genetic and environmental factors, there are many risk factors that researchers have connected with hepatic functional decline:

  • A family history of liver disease
  • Exposure to toxins and chemicals
  • Unprotected sexual encounter(s)
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Obesity
  • Type II diabetes
  • Tattoos
  • Body piercings
  • Injecting drugs (specifically while sharing needles)
  • Exposure to other people's bodily fluids
  • Having had a blood transfusion before 1992

If any of these risk factors apply to you, you should pay special attention to your liver function panels. Your primary care physician will perform a hepatic function blood test each year when you have routine blood work done.

However, you should let your physician know if have any of these risk factors. With more information, your physician can make better decisions about your health. 

Causes of Hepatic Function Decline

As we discussed, the liver is an essential organ. It performs a lot of jobs for the human body. Because of this, there are many causes that can lead to hepatic function decline:

  • Chronic alcohol abuse
  • Accumulation of fat in the liver, which is also known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Infections such as Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C
  • Genetic conditions such as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, Wilson's disease, and hemochromatosis
  • Cancers and other neoplasms such as liver cancer, bile duct cancer, and liver adenoma
  • Immune systems problems such as autoimmune hepatitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and primary biliary cholangitis
  • The use of some prescription or over-the-counter medications
  • The consumption of some herbs or supplements

Since the liver is one of the primary filtering systems in the body, it's essential to note how important your consumption habits are. In other words, to protect your liver and other vital organs, you should be careful about what you eat and take. Too much alcohol, fatty foods, medications, and other substances can lead to hepatic function decline.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Hepatic Function Decline?

Unfortunately, liver problems don't always come with signs and symptoms until the disease is fully developed. As you may remember, time is of the essence with these kinds of conditions. So, you (and your physicians) should be working together to try to diagnose liver-related conditions as early as possible.

Since signs and symptoms don't show up until later in the disease course, you need to make sure that you're getting your regular checkups. Your primary physician is the first line of diagnosis for these kinds of conditions since they perform hepatic function lab tests at your regular appointments.

These liver function panels can let your physician know whether or not there is any damage to your liver. If they do find signs of damage, they can work with you on reversing current damage and/or stopping future damage.

If your liver condition were to advance, here are some signs and symptoms that you should look out for:

  • Jaundice, a condition in which your skin and eyes turn a yellowish tint
  • Itchy skin
  • Easily bruising
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling in the lower legs and ankles
  • Urine that is dark in color
  • Stool that is pale in color

If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, you need to make an appointment with your primary care physician as soon as possible. If you're already experiencing jaundice (a sign that your condition has progressed to later stages), you should go to the emergency room.

How Is Hepatic Function Decline Diagnosed?

When you see your doctor, they're going to start by gathering an extensive health history. In addition, they're going to perform a physical examination.

During these two steps, they can detect any genetic markers or physical changes that may be associated with hepatic function decline.

Afterward, your physician will order blood tests to check your liver function. We will discuss more specific tests below.

In addition to these tests, your physician may order an ultrasound, CT, or MRI to visualize any changes to the liver.

Lastly, your physician may want to collect a biopsy of the liver to check for damage to the liver on the cellular or tissue level.

The Lab Tests to Screen, Diagnose, and Monitor Hepatic Function Decline

A full hepatic function panel test will check the following values:

  • Albumin
  • Globulin
  • Albumin/Globulin ratio
  • Alkaline phosphatase
  • ALT
  • AST
  • Bilirubin
  • Protein

All of these values are essential in detecting liver disease and understanding how far the disease has progressed.

Get a Hepatic Function Panel With Ulta Lab Tests

If you think that you may have hepatic function decline, you need to get your blood work done as soon as possible. Luckily, our hepatic function panel tests every biomarker of liver decline.

With confidential results and a quick turnaround, you'll know about your liver health within a few days. Other benefits of using Ulta Lab Tests for your testing needs include:

  • Affordable pricing on all tests
  • No insurance needed
  • No doctor’s referral required
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee

With confidential results and a quick turnaround, you'll know about your liver health within a few days. Take control of your health with Ulta Lab Tests!