Test Catalog

Test ID: AST    
Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST) (GOT), Serum

Useful For Suggests clinical disorders or settings where the test may be helpful

Diagnosing and monitoring liver disease, particularly diseases resulting in a destruction of hepatocytes

Clinical Information Discusses physiology, pathophysiology, and general clinical aspects, as they relate to a laboratory test

Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) is found in high concentrations in liver, heart, skeletal muscle, and kidney. AST is present in both cytoplasm and mitochondria of cells. In cases involving mild tissue injury, the predominant form of AST is that from the cytoplasm. Severe tissue damage results in more of the mitochondrial enzyme being released. High levels of AST can be found in cases such as myocardial infarction, acute liver cell damage, viral hepatitis, and carbon tetrachloride poisoning. Slight to moderate elevation of AST is seen in muscular dystrophy, dermatomyositis, acute pancreatitis, and crushed muscle injuries.

Reference Values Describes reference intervals and additional information for interpretation of test results. May include intervals based on age and sex when appropriate. Intervals are Mayo-derived, unless otherwise designated. If an interpretive report is provided, the reference value field will state this.


0-11 months: not established

1-13 years: 8-60 U/L

> or =14 years: 8-48 U/L


0-11 months: not established

1-13 years: 8-50 U/L

> or =14 years: 8-43 U/L

Interpretation Provides information to assist in interpretation of the test results

Elevated aspartate aminotransferase (AST) values are seen in parenchymal liver diseases characterized by a destruction of hepatocytes. Values are typically at least 10 times above the normal range. Levels may reach values as high as 100 times the upper reference limit, although 20- to 50-fold elevations are most frequently encountered. In infectious hepatitis and other inflammatory conditions affecting the liver, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is characteristically as high as or higher than AST, and the ALT:AST ratio, which normally and in other condition is less than 1, becomes greater than unity. AST levels are usually elevated before clinical signs and symptoms of disease appear. Five- to 10-fold elevations of both AST and ALT occur in patients with primary or metastatic carcinoma of the liver, with AST usually being higher than ALT, but levels are often normal in the early stages of malignant infiltration of the liver. Elevations of ALT activity persist longer than do those of AST activity. Elevated AST values may also be seen in disorders affecting the heart, skeletal muscle, and kidney.

Cautions Discusses conditions that may cause diagnostic confusion, including improper specimen collection and handling, inappropriate test selection, and interfering substances

Pyridoxal phosphate is a cofactor in the reaction and is necessary for enzyme activity.

Clinical Reference Recommendations for in-depth reading of a clinical nature

Tietz Textbook of Clinical Chemistry. Edited by CA Burtis, ER Ashwood. Philadelphia, WB Saunders Company, 1994