AST (aspartate aminotransferase), or SGOT (serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase) as it is also referred to, is one of the many enzymes (proteins) that reside in the cells of your body and assist in the chemical reactions taking place in your body. The name aminotransferase is derived because these enzymes catalyze reaction in cells, wherein an amino group is transferred from a donor molecule into a receiver molecule.
AST (SGOT) is primarily found in the muscles, liver, and heart. As such, these enzymes will be within the normal range on a blood test. However, if there is any injury or damage to your muscles, liver, or heart, these enzymes spill into the bloodstream and will be reflected in the blood report as being elevated. Read about alanine aminotransferase
The normal value of AST (SGOT) ranges from 5 units to 40 units per liter of serum. Minor aberrations in these levels are no cause for concern. Many times elevated AST levels are also caused as a result of certain prescription drugs. However, if the levels are too high, it is indicative of liver, muscle, or heart damage. AST levels are elevated when there is liver damage caused by viral hepatitis or if there is a heart attack. Alcohol abuse can also result in elevated AST (SGOT) levels.
Most often AST levels are an indicator of liver injury, but it needs to be noted that elevated levels of AST (SGOT) do not automatically imply a liver disease. It could sometimes be a sign of muscle damage as well. The interpretation of AST levels largely depends upon your overall clinical evaluation.
Another thing to remember is that higher-than normal levels of SGOT enzyme does not necessarily correspond with the extent of the damage. So even though your AST levels are high, it does not determine the severity of a liver or heart disease nor does it indicate a prognosis of the damage. For instance, a patient with hepatitis A could have very high AST levels, sometimes as high as thousands of units per liter, but it is most likely that the patient will recover from the disease without causing any residual damage to the liver. On the other hand, a patient with chronic Hepatitis C could have a blood report that indicates a marginal rise in AST levels, but could end up with liver scarring or chronic liver condition as a result of Hepatitis C.
Generally speaking, extremely high levels of AST are found in conditions like acute viral Hepatitis A and B, liver damage caused by overdose of acetaminophen, and collapse of the circulatory system caused by lack of oxygen and fresh blood to the liver.
Submitted by N on March 5, 2010 at 02:09