The ratio of aspartate aminotransferase to alanine aminotransferase: Potential value in differentiating nonalcoholic steatohepatitis from alcoholic liver disease

Darius Sorbi, Jessica Boynton, Keith Lindor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

306 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The ratio of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) to alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is often greater than 2:1 in alcoholic hepatitis. The purpose of this study was to determine whether this ratio may be used to distinguish nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) from alcoholic liver disease. METHODS: Patients with NASH were matched with controls with alcoholic liver disease based on age, gender, and date of diagnosis. The diagnosis of alcoholic liver disease was based on exclusion of other causes and a significant history of alcohol consumption. The diagnosis of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis was based on exclusion of other causes of liver disease and a liver biopsy showing >10% steatosis and inflammation. The two sided Student t test was used for statistical analysis. RESULTS: From 1990 to 1996, 70 patients with NASH were matched with 70 subjects with alcoholic liver disease. Patients with NASH had a mean AST to ALT ratio of 0.9 (range 0.3- 2.8, median 0.7) and subjects with alcoholic liver disease a mean ratio of 2.6 (range 1.1-11.2, median 2.0). The mean AST levels were 66 U/L and 152 U/L, and the mean ALT levels 91 U/L and 70 U/L, in the nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and alcoholic liver disease groups, respectively. Although the absolute aminotransferase levels were significantly different in the two groups (p < 0.05), the greatest difference was observed in the AST to ALT ratio (p < 0.000001). Subset analysis of patients with NASH revealed mean AST to ALT ratios of 0.7, 0.9, and 1.4 for subjects with no fibrosis, mild fibrosis, or cirrhosis, respectively. The differences among these ratios were statistically significant (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: The AST to ALT ratio appears to be a useful index for distinguishing nonalcoholic steatohepatitis from alcoholic liver disease. Although values < 1 suggest NASH, a ratio of ≥2 is strongly suggestive of alcoholic liver disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1018-1022
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume94
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1999
Externally publishedYes

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Alcoholic Liver Diseases
Aspartate Aminotransferases
Alanine Transaminase
Fibrosis
Alcoholic Hepatitis
Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Transaminases
Alcohol Drinking
Alanine
Liver Diseases
Students
Inflammation
Biopsy
Liver

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology

Cite this

@article{19c97a163f514dd084e3c7868e1c18b4,
title = "The ratio of aspartate aminotransferase to alanine aminotransferase: Potential value in differentiating nonalcoholic steatohepatitis from alcoholic liver disease",
abstract = "OBJECTIVE: The ratio of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) to alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is often greater than 2:1 in alcoholic hepatitis. The purpose of this study was to determine whether this ratio may be used to distinguish nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) from alcoholic liver disease. METHODS: Patients with NASH were matched with controls with alcoholic liver disease based on age, gender, and date of diagnosis. The diagnosis of alcoholic liver disease was based on exclusion of other causes and a significant history of alcohol consumption. The diagnosis of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis was based on exclusion of other causes of liver disease and a liver biopsy showing >10{\%} steatosis and inflammation. The two sided Student t test was used for statistical analysis. RESULTS: From 1990 to 1996, 70 patients with NASH were matched with 70 subjects with alcoholic liver disease. Patients with NASH had a mean AST to ALT ratio of 0.9 (range 0.3- 2.8, median 0.7) and subjects with alcoholic liver disease a mean ratio of 2.6 (range 1.1-11.2, median 2.0). The mean AST levels were 66 U/L and 152 U/L, and the mean ALT levels 91 U/L and 70 U/L, in the nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and alcoholic liver disease groups, respectively. Although the absolute aminotransferase levels were significantly different in the two groups (p < 0.05), the greatest difference was observed in the AST to ALT ratio (p < 0.000001). Subset analysis of patients with NASH revealed mean AST to ALT ratios of 0.7, 0.9, and 1.4 for subjects with no fibrosis, mild fibrosis, or cirrhosis, respectively. The differences among these ratios were statistically significant (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: The AST to ALT ratio appears to be a useful index for distinguishing nonalcoholic steatohepatitis from alcoholic liver disease. Although values < 1 suggest NASH, a ratio of ≥2 is strongly suggestive of alcoholic liver disease.",
author = "Darius Sorbi and Jessica Boynton and Keith Lindor",
year = "1999",
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doi = "10.1016/S0002-9270(99)00061-1",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "94",
pages = "1018--1022",
journal = "American Journal of Gastroenterology",
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T1 - The ratio of aspartate aminotransferase to alanine aminotransferase

T2 - Potential value in differentiating nonalcoholic steatohepatitis from alcoholic liver disease

AU - Sorbi, Darius

AU - Boynton, Jessica

AU - Lindor, Keith

PY - 1999/4

Y1 - 1999/4

N2 - OBJECTIVE: The ratio of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) to alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is often greater than 2:1 in alcoholic hepatitis. The purpose of this study was to determine whether this ratio may be used to distinguish nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) from alcoholic liver disease. METHODS: Patients with NASH were matched with controls with alcoholic liver disease based on age, gender, and date of diagnosis. The diagnosis of alcoholic liver disease was based on exclusion of other causes and a significant history of alcohol consumption. The diagnosis of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis was based on exclusion of other causes of liver disease and a liver biopsy showing >10% steatosis and inflammation. The two sided Student t test was used for statistical analysis. RESULTS: From 1990 to 1996, 70 patients with NASH were matched with 70 subjects with alcoholic liver disease. Patients with NASH had a mean AST to ALT ratio of 0.9 (range 0.3- 2.8, median 0.7) and subjects with alcoholic liver disease a mean ratio of 2.6 (range 1.1-11.2, median 2.0). The mean AST levels were 66 U/L and 152 U/L, and the mean ALT levels 91 U/L and 70 U/L, in the nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and alcoholic liver disease groups, respectively. Although the absolute aminotransferase levels were significantly different in the two groups (p < 0.05), the greatest difference was observed in the AST to ALT ratio (p < 0.000001). Subset analysis of patients with NASH revealed mean AST to ALT ratios of 0.7, 0.9, and 1.4 for subjects with no fibrosis, mild fibrosis, or cirrhosis, respectively. The differences among these ratios were statistically significant (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: The AST to ALT ratio appears to be a useful index for distinguishing nonalcoholic steatohepatitis from alcoholic liver disease. Although values < 1 suggest NASH, a ratio of ≥2 is strongly suggestive of alcoholic liver disease.

AB - OBJECTIVE: The ratio of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) to alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is often greater than 2:1 in alcoholic hepatitis. The purpose of this study was to determine whether this ratio may be used to distinguish nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) from alcoholic liver disease. METHODS: Patients with NASH were matched with controls with alcoholic liver disease based on age, gender, and date of diagnosis. The diagnosis of alcoholic liver disease was based on exclusion of other causes and a significant history of alcohol consumption. The diagnosis of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis was based on exclusion of other causes of liver disease and a liver biopsy showing >10% steatosis and inflammation. The two sided Student t test was used for statistical analysis. RESULTS: From 1990 to 1996, 70 patients with NASH were matched with 70 subjects with alcoholic liver disease. Patients with NASH had a mean AST to ALT ratio of 0.9 (range 0.3- 2.8, median 0.7) and subjects with alcoholic liver disease a mean ratio of 2.6 (range 1.1-11.2, median 2.0). The mean AST levels were 66 U/L and 152 U/L, and the mean ALT levels 91 U/L and 70 U/L, in the nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and alcoholic liver disease groups, respectively. Although the absolute aminotransferase levels were significantly different in the two groups (p < 0.05), the greatest difference was observed in the AST to ALT ratio (p < 0.000001). Subset analysis of patients with NASH revealed mean AST to ALT ratios of 0.7, 0.9, and 1.4 for subjects with no fibrosis, mild fibrosis, or cirrhosis, respectively. The differences among these ratios were statistically significant (p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: The AST to ALT ratio appears to be a useful index for distinguishing nonalcoholic steatohepatitis from alcoholic liver disease. Although values < 1 suggest NASH, a ratio of ≥2 is strongly suggestive of alcoholic liver disease.

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