About The Test
What is ALT, SGPT?
Alanine transaminase (ALT) test, also known as serum glutamate-pyruvate transaminase (SGPT), measures ALT levels in the blood and is normally found inside liver cells. However, when your liver is damaged or inflamed, ALT can be released into your blood. The rise in ALT is the first sign of a problem before other symptoms like jaundice, dark urine, and vomiting appear.
Higher than normal levels of ALT can be an indicator of liver damage and can be because of hepatitis, cirrhosis, and death of liver tissue. The lower levels of ALT indicate a healthy liver but very low levels of ALT may also pose a health risk. Lifestyle changes, such as a healthy diet and regular exercise can all help to lower ALT levels.
Why is ALT, SGPT done?
- As a part of the liver function test
- To detect hepatitis
- To detect damage to the liver due to drugs or substances toxic to the liver
- In case of signs or symptoms of liver disease like dark colored urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, jaundice, and abdominal pain
- In case of increased risk of developing a liver disease like heavy drinking, exposure to hepatitis virus, or having a family history of liver disease
What does ALT, SGPT Measure?
Alanine Transaminase test measures the levels of alanine transaminase in the blood. Alanine Transaminase is an enzyme which is found in liver and kidney cells. However, this enzyme, in less quantity, can be found in the muscles and the heart. Its function is to convert alanine (an amino acid found in proteins) to pyruvate (intermediate in cellular energy production).
Generally, these levels of alanine transaminase in the blood remain low in healthy individuals. However, if there is any damage to the liver, alanine transaminase is released in the blood. This process helps in early detection of any damage to the liver.
The function of the liver is to process the nutrients of the body. It also produces bile which helps in digesting fats along with the production of other important proteins such as blood clotting factors and albumin. The liver breaks the potentially toxic substances into harmless products which can be used or eliminated by the body.
This test is done with another liver enzyme, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) as a part of the liver panel. In case of damage to the liver, there is a sudden rise in levels of both enzymes. However, alanine transaminase is more specific for the liver. In some cases, it is possible that only one of them is increased. The AST/ALT ratio can be calculated to differentiate between various causes and severity of the liver injury. This can also help to distinguish whether the injury is from damage to the liver or heart or muscles.