Health Glossary

Meaning of Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST/SGOT)

The aspartate aminotransferase (AST) test is a blood test that checks for liver damage and is a part of liver profile. AST is also called SGOT (serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase). It is an enzyme produced by your liver.
Author Dr. Jacky Lio
Date 2021-07-16
Updated on 2021-07-21
Meaning of AST (aka SGOT) Variation in the normal ranges of AST/SGOTCauses of higher-than-normal AST levelsCauses of a very high AST levelsOther conditions not tied to your liver can also raise your AST level

Meaning of AST (aka SGOT)

SGOT is released into blood when the liver is damaged. High SGOT in blood could also mean damage to the heart or kidneys. A high AST with a normal ALT may mean that the AST is coming from a different part of the body other than the liver.

Variation in the normal ranges of AST/SGOT

Normal ranges vary as below:

Males 10 to 40 units/L
Females 9 to 32 units/L

Causes of higher-than-normal AST levels

  • Chronic (ongoing) hepatitis
  • Cirrhosis (long-term damage and scarring of the liver)
  • Blockage in the bile ducts that carry digestive fluid from the liver to the gallbladder and intestine
  • Liver cancer

Causes of a very high AST levels

  • Acute viral hepatitis (inflammation of the liver due to viral infection)
  • Damage to the liver from drugs or other toxic substances like alcohol
  • A blockage in blood flow to the liver

Other conditions not tied to your liver can also raise your AST level

  • Burns
  • Heart attack
  • Intense exercise
  • Muscle injury
  • Pregnancy
  • Pancreatitis
  • Seizures
  • Surgery

Some diseases or medicines you take can cause a “false positive” result on the AST test. This means your test is positive, even though you don’t have liver damage. A false positive result can be due to Diabetic ketoacidosis, where your body can’t make enough insulin, or due to intake of some antibiotics, such as erythromycin estolate or para-aminosalicylic acid (Paser).


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