Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) is an enzyme found in cells throughout the body especially in heart and liver kidneys and muscles. AST levels are low under normal condition but rise when liver or muscle injury occur. This test measures the AST level in the blood and is a useful test for detecting or monitoring liver damage.
Many conditions can cause damage to liver cells giving a rise to AST. Inflammation to the liver is called hepatitis and can be caused by viruses or medication or substances that are toxic to the liver.
AST is often tested in conjunction with alanine aminotransferase (ALT) or as part of the groups test called Liver Function Tests (LFT).
AST tests are used to evaluate the liver in the presence of the following signs and symptoms: