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Ast lab values: Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) blood test

Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) blood test

Medical Tests 


The aspartate aminotransferase (AST) blood test measures the level of the enzyme AST in the blood.

Alternative Names

Aspartate aminotransferase; Serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase; SGOT

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is needed.

How to Prepare for the Test

No special preparation is needed.

How the Test will Feel

When the needle is inserted to draw blood, some people feel moderate pain. Others feel only a prick or stinging. Afterward, there may be some throbbing or a slight bruise. This soon goes away.

Why the Test is Performed

AST is an enzyme found in high levels in the liver, heart, and muscles. It is also found in lesser amounts in other tissues. An enzyme is a protein that causes a specific chemical change in the body.

Injury to the liver results in release of AST into the blood.

This test is mainly done along with other tests (such as ALT, ALP, and bilirubin) to diagnose and monitor liver disease.

Normal Results

The normal range is 8 to 33 U/L.

Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Some labs use different measurements or may test different samples. Talk to your health care provider about the meaning of your specific test results.

What Abnormal Results Mean

An increased AST level is often a sign of liver disease. Liver disease is even more likely when the levels of substances checked by other liver blood tests have also increased.

An increased AST level may be due to any of the following:


  • Scarring of the liver (cirrhosis)
  • Death of liver tissue
  • Heart attack
  • Too much iron in the body (hemochromatosis)
  • Swollen and inflamed liver (hepatitis)
  • Lack of blood flow to the liver (liver ischemia)
  • Liver cancer or tumor
  • Use of drugs that are toxic to the liver, especially alcohol use
  • Mononucleosis (“mono”)
  • Muscle disease or trauma
  • Swollen and inflamed pancreas (pancreatitis)

AST level may also increase after:

  • Burns (deep)
  • Heart procedures
  • Seizure
  • Surgery

Pregnancy and exercise may also cause an increased AST level.


There is little risk involved with having your blood taken. Veins vary in size from one person to another and from one side of the body to the other. Taking blood from some people may be more difficult than from others.

Risks associated with having blood drawn are slight, but may include:

  • Fainting or feeling lightheaded
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Multiple punctures to locate veins
  • Hematoma (blood collecting under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)


Chernecky CC, Berger BJ. Aspartate aminotransferase (AST, aspartate transaminase, SGOT) – serum. In: Chernecky CC, Berger BJ, eds. Laboratory Tests and Diagnostic Procedures. 6th ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier Saunders; 2013:172-173.

Pincus MR, Tierno PM, Gleeson E, Bowne WB, Bluth MH. Evaluation of liver function. In: McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Henry’s Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 23rd ed. St Louis, MO: Elsevier; 2017:chap 21.

Pratt DS. Liver chemistry and function tests. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 73.

Review Date: 01/26/2019

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only — they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. Copyright ©2019 A.D.A.M., Inc., as modified by University of California San Francisco. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

Information developed by A.D.A.M., Inc. regarding tests and test results may not directly correspond with information provided by UCSF Health. Please discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

AST Test: MedlinePlus Medical Test

What is an AST Test?

AST (aspartate aminotransferase) is an enzyme that is found mostly in the liver, but it’s also in muscles and other organs in your body. When cells that contain AST are damaged, they release the AST into your blood. An AST blood test measures the amount of AST in your blood. The test is commonly used to help diagnose liver damage or disease.

Other names: SGOT test, serum glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase test; aspartate transaminase test

What is it used for?

An AST blood test is often part of a routine blood screening to check the health of your liver. The test may help diagnose or monitor liver problems. It may also help diagnose other health conditions.

Why do I need an AST blood test?

You may get an AST blood test as part of your routine checkup or if you have symptoms of liver damage. These may include:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Jaundice, a condition that causes your skin and eyes to turn yellow
  • Swelling and/or pain in your abdomen (belly)
  • Swelling in your ankles and legs
  • Dark-colored urine (pee) and/or light-colored stool (poop)
  • Frequent itching

Even if you don’t have symptoms, your health care provider may order an AST blood test if you’re more likely to develop liver disease because of:

  • A family history of liver disease
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Taking certain medicines that can cause liver damage
  • Hepatitis or exposure to hepatitis

What happens during an AST blood test?

A health care professional will take a blood sample from a vein in your arm, using a small needle. After the needle is inserted, a small amount of blood will be collected into a test tube or vial. You may feel a little sting when the needle goes in or out. This usually takes less than five minutes.

Will I need to do anything to prepare for the test?

You don’t need any special preparations for an AST blood test. But an AST test is usually ordered with other blood tests. You usually need to fast (not eat or drink) for up to 12 hours before these tests. Your provider will let you know if there are any special instructions to follow.

Are there any risks to the test?

There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.

What do the results mean?

High levels of AST in the blood may be a sign of hepatitis, cirrhosis, mononucleosis, or other liver diseases. High AST levels may also be a sign of heart problems or pancreatitis.

If your results are not in the normal range, it doesn’t always mean that you have a medical condition that needs treatment. Many things can affect your results, such as certain medicines and your age, sex, and diet. To learn what your results mean, talk with your provider.

Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.

Is there anything else I need to know about an AST blood test?

Your health care provider may order an ALT blood test with your AST blood test. ALT stands for alanine transaminase, which is another type of liver enzyme. If you have high levels of AST and/or ALT, it may mean that you have some type of liver damage.

You may also have an AST test as part of a group of liver function tests that measure ALT, and other enzymes, proteins, and substances in the liver.


  1. American Liver Foundation. [Internet]. New York: American Liver Foundation; c2017. Diagnosing Liver Disease – Liver Biopsy and Liver Function Tests; [updated 2020 Feb 17; cited 2022 Feb 14]; [about 3 screens]. Available from: https://liverfoundation. org/for-patients/about-the-liver/diagnosing-liver-disease/
  2. Hinkle J, Cheever K. Brunner & Suddarth’s Handbook of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests. 2nd Ed, Kindle. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer Health, Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; c2014. Aspartate Aminotransferase; p. 68–69.
  3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Blood Tests; [cited 2022 Feb 14]; [about 15 screens]. Available from: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/blood-tests
  4. Testing.com [Internet]. Seattle (WA).: OneCare Media; c2022. Aspartate Aminotransferase: The Test; [modified 2021 Nov 9; cited 2022 Feb 14; [about 14 screens]. Available from: https://www.testing.com/test/aspartate-aminotransferase-ast/
  5. University of Rochester Medical Center [Internet]. Rochester (NY): University of Rochester Medical Center; c2017. Health Encyclopedia: Aspartate Transaminase; [cited 2017 Mar 13]; [about 2 screens]. Available from: https://www. urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=167&contentid=aspartate_transaminase

Aspartate aminotransferase (AST)

Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) is an enzyme that is found in all cells of the body, but mainly in the cells of the heart and liver, and to a lesser extent in the kidneys and muscles. Normally, AST activity in the blood is very low. When liver or muscle tissue is damaged, it is released into the blood. Thus, AST is an indicator of liver damage.

Synonyms Russian

Serum glutamine-oxaloacetic transaminase, serum glutamate-oxaloacetate transaminase (SGOT), aspartate transaminase, AST/ALT ratio.

Synonyms English

Aspartate aminotransferase.

Test method

UV kinetic test.


U/L (unit per litre).

What biomaterial can be used for research?

Venous, capillary blood.

How to properly prepare for an examination?

  • Do not eat for 12 hours before the test.
  • Exclude physical and emotional overexertion within 30 minutes prior to the study.
  • Do not smoke for 30 minutes before the test.

Study Overview

Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) is an enzyme found in all cells of the body, but primarily in the heart and liver, and to a lesser extent in the kidneys and muscles. In healthy patients, AST activity in the blood is low and the AST norm has low values. When the liver or muscles are damaged, AST is released, and the level of AST in the blood rises. In this regard, the activity of this enzyme is an indicator of liver damage. An analysis for AST is part of the so-called liver tests – studies that diagnose disorders in the liver.

The liver is a vital organ located in the upper right side of the abdomen. It is involved in many important bodily functions – helping with nutrient processing, bile production, the synthesis of many important proteins such as blood clotting factors, and breaking down potentially toxic compounds into harmless substances.

A number of diseases lead to damage to liver cells, which increases the activity of AST.

The most common test for AST is to check if the liver is damaged due to hepatitis, toxic drugs, cirrhosis. However, AST does not always reflect only liver damage; the activity of this enzyme can also increase in diseases of other organs, in particular, in myocardial infarction.

What is research used for?

  • To detect liver damage. Typically, an AST test is ordered along with an alanine aminotransferase (ALT) test or as part of a general liver function test. AST and ALT are considered the two most important indicators of liver damage, although ALT is more specific than AST. In some cases, AST is directly compared with ALT and their ratio (AST/ALT) is calculated. It can be used to find out the causes of liver damage.
  • Blood AST is often compared with other tests, such as alkaline phosphatase (AP), total protein, and bilirubin, to determine a specific form of liver disease.
  • To monitor the effectiveness of the treatment of liver diseases.
  • To monitor the health of patients taking drugs that are potentially toxic to the liver. If AST activity rises, the patient may be switched to other medications.

When is the test ordered?

  • For symptoms of liver disorder:
    • weakness, fatigue,
    • loss of appetite,
    • nausea, vomiting,
    • abdominal pain and bloating,
    • yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes,
    • dark urine, light stool,
    • itching.
  • If there are factors that increase the risk of liver disease:
    • previous hepatitis or recent exposure to hepatitis infection,
    • excessive alcohol consumption,
    • hereditary predisposition to liver diseases,
    • taking drugs that can damage the liver,
    • overweight or diabetic.
    • On a regular basis throughout the treatment process to determine its effectiveness.

What do the results mean?

Reference values ​​(AST norm for men, women and children):

Age, sex

Reference values ​​

0 – 1 year

1 – 4 years

4 – 7 years

7 – 13 years old

13 – 18 years old

> 18 years old



Normally, the activity of AST in the blood is low.

Excessively high AST activity (more than 10 times normal) is usually caused by viral infections. It can also increase significantly as a result of taking drugs or other substances that are toxic to the liver, as well as due to diseases that slow blood flow to the liver (ischemia).

In chronic hepatitis, AST activity usually exceeds the norm by no more than 4 times. It fluctuates between normal and somewhat elevated, so often an analysis is prescribed to determine the degree of the disease. Diseases such as obstruction of the biliary tract, cirrhosis, and some types of liver cancer contribute to a moderate increase in AST. After a heart attack and with muscle damage, AST activity can also increase, usually much more than ALT.

In most liver diseases, ALT activity in the blood is higher than AST activity, so the AST/ALT ratio will be low. However, there are a few exceptions: alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and muscle damage.

Important notes

  • During pregnancy, AST activity may decrease.
  • Intramuscular injections of drugs, as well as intense physical activity, increase the activity of AST in the blood.
  • In some patients, liver damage and, as a result, an increase in AST activity can be caused by taking dietary supplements. Therefore, it is necessary to inform the attending physician not only about all medications taken, but also about nutritional supplements.

Also recommended

  • Alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
  • Alkaline phosphatase, total
  • Gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (gamma-GT)
  • Serum albumin
  • Total protein in whey

Who orders the examination?

Therapist, cardiologist, hepatologist, gastroenterologist, general practitioner, surgeon, pediatrician.

Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) – get tested in St. Petersburg

Medical center at Bogatyrsky pr., 4Laboratory terminal at Aleksandrovskaya Fermy avenue, 8Laboratory terminal at Nastavnikov avenue, 36k2Laboratory terminal at ul. Budapestskaya, 6Medical center on Pulkovskoye shosse, 28A Medical center on Kondratievsky prospect, 62k3Medical center on Prosveshcheniya avenue, 14k4Medical center on Moiseenko, 5Laboratory terminal on the street.

Oleko Dundicha, 8, room 2Laboratory terminal on the street. Pestelya, 25AMedical center on Leninsky prospect, 88Medical center on Okhtinskaya alley, 4 (Murino, Leningrad region)Laboratory terminal on the street. Turku, 5/13 St. Petersburg, Exit serviceMedical center on the street. Savushkina, 14


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AST in a blood test – what is it? This is an analysis for the content in the blood of one of the liver enzymes – aspartate aminotransferase.

Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) is an enzyme found mainly in the cells of the liver and heart, so if the level of AST in the blood is high, this may indicate disorders of the liver and heart, including myocardial infarction.

AST analysis is in the range of liver tests along with ALT analysis, both tests are most often taken for suspected liver disease, also taking into account the ratio of both enzymes. An increase in the level of AST in the blood test means that the patient may have heart problems. If ALT is higher, then, first of all, it is necessary to examine the liver.

Method of determination

AST indicators are determined by the UV kinetic method.

Test material

Examine the serum of venous or capillary blood.


AST blood test can be obtained in 1 day.


An AST analysis is indicated for patient complaints of abdominal pain, flatulence, nausea and vomiting, appetite disorders, itching and yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes, weakness and fatigue. Dark urine at the same time as stool lightening are also alarming symptoms for the appointment of an analysis.

AST is also checked in people at risk: those who have had hepatitis or who have been in contact with an infected person, who suffer from chronic hepatitis, who abuse alcohol, drugs, and who take nephrotoxic drugs and dietary supplements. It is also advisable to periodically check AST in people who are overweight, have diabetes, and have a genetic predisposition to liver disease.

Regular checking of AST levels allows assessing the state of the liver in dynamics and the effectiveness of the treatment.

Preparation for analysis

An analysis for liver enzymes is usually taken in the morning, since 12 hours of abstinence from food is necessary. You can drink water. On the eve of the day of the study, it is necessary to exclude stress, both mental and physical, and also to abandon alcohol and energy drinks. Do not smoke one hour before blood sampling.

Synonyms: AST, Aspartate transaminase, AST/AST, Aspartate aminotransferase

Equipment: OLYMPUS AU/5800/680/480/-Beckman Coulter

Norms of AST in the blood depend on gender and age:

adults, gender Values ​​(U/l)
Men <40
Women <32

In children, the normative indicator varies depending on age:

Children, age Values ​​(U/l)
Up to a year <58
Up to 4 years <59
Up to 7 years <48
Up to 13 years old<44
Under 18 <39

If AST in the biochemical blood test is very high – more than 10 times or more than the norm – it is typical for viral infections. In patients with chronic hepatitis, AST is increased by 2-4 times, no more. Biliary obstruction, cirrhosis, and some types of liver tumors moderately increase AST.

* For current information, please contact the contact center at tel. 8 (812) 600-42-00

It is recommended to donate blood on an empty stomach (at least 6-8 hours of fasting). Drinking – water, as usual. On the eve of the study, exclude: food, physical and emotional overload, alcohol and energy drinks. Stop smoking 1 hour before the study.

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Analysis available at these centers:

Medical center on Bogatyrsky pr. , 4

Medical center on the street. Moiseenko, 5

Medical center on Prosveshcheniya avenue, 14k4

Medical center on the street. Savushkina, 14

Laboratory terminal on the street. Turku, 5/13

Medical center on Okhtinskaya alley, 4 (Murino, Leningrad region)

Laboratory terminal on the street. Pestelya, 25A

Laboratory terminal on the street. Oleko Dundicha, 8, building 2

Laboratory terminal on the street. Budapestskaya, 6

Medical center at Pulkovskoe shosse, 28A

Laboratory terminal at Nastavnikov Ave., 36k2

Laboratory terminal at Aleksandrovskaya Ferma avenue, 8

Medical center on Leninsky pr. , 88

Medical center on Kondratievsky prospect, 62k3

ORTOKROSS clinic on the 5th line of V. O., 8A (official partner)

Laboratory terminal at Kronverksky pr., 31 (official partner)

Clinic “PulkovoStom” on Pulkovskoye shosse, 26, building 6. (official partner)

Laboratory terminal on the street.