Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) also known as glutamate oxaloacetate transaminase (GOT) is a transaminase. AST catalyses the transfer of the aminogroup of L-aspartate to α-ketoglutarate to give L-glutamate. AST is widely distributed in the body, but the highest levels are found in heart, liver, skeletal muscles and kidneys.
Damages to cells of these tissues induce AST increase in serum. In case of fulminant forms of hepatitis, especially viral hepatitis the enzyme level is markedly elevated. In case of myocardial infarction, AST activity increases and reaches a peak after 18-24 hours. The activity falls back to normal after 4-5 days, provided no new infarct has occurred.
The following pathological states are examples of disorders also resulting in an increase of enzyme activity : liver cell necrosis or injury of any cause (for example intake of alcohol, delirium tremens, and administration of drug induce moderate AST elevation), alcoholic hepatitis, muscular dystrophy and gangrene, infectious mononucleosis, acute pancreatitis, heart affection as myocarditis or pericarditis, pulmonary emboli….
On the contrary, AST serum level can decrease in case of vitamin B6 deficiency.