Liver function test

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In clinical medicine, liver function tests include tests for:[1]


While liver function tests are usually considered to be biochemical or immunologic, which themselves are increasingly overlapping, imaging provides valuable material as well. Liver scanning after injection of a radioactive tracer has been used for years to localize defects. Newer functional imaging is still experimental but shows promise.

Causes of elevated test results

Patterns of abnormalities of liver function tests
  Suggested underlying cause
AST/ALT ratio > 1[4] Alcoholic liver diseases
Alkaline phosphatase to total bilirubin ratio <4[5]
AST/ALT ratio > 2.2[5]
Hepatolenticular degeneration (Wilson's Disease)

Increased blood levels of alanine transaminase have been associated with eating fast food twice a day while limiting exercise.[6] The intervention in the trial aimed to "double the regular caloric intake in combination with adoption of a sedentary lifestyle for four weeks."[6]


  1. Covin, RB (April 4, 2006), Liver and Gallbladder Pathology, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
  2. Anonymous (2023), Alanine transaminase (English). Medical Subject Headings. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  3. Anonymous (2023), Aspartate aminotransferase (English). Medical Subject Headings. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
  4. Van Ness MM, Diehl AM (1989). "Is liver biopsy useful in the evaluation of patients with chronically elevated liver enzymes?". Ann Intern Med 111 (6): 473-8. PMID 2774372[e]
  5. 5.0 5.1 Korman JD, Volenberg I, Balko J, Webster J, Schiodt FV, Squires RH et al. (2008). "Screening for Wilson disease in acute liver failure: a comparison of currently available diagnostic tests.". Hepatology 48 (4): 1167-74. DOI:10.1002/hep.22446. PMID 18798336. Research Blogging.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Kechagias S, Ernersson A, Dahlqvist O, Lundberg P, Lindström T, Nystrom FH (2008). "Fast food based hyper-alimentation can induce rapid and profound elevation of serum alanine aminotransferase in healthy subjects". Gut. DOI:10.1136/gut.2007.131797. PMID 18276725. Research Blogging.