Q:

What is transaminitis?

A:

Transaminitis is the elevation of transaminases in the liver, most commonly alanine transaminase and asperate transaminase. This condition is often discovered in asymptomatic patients in primary care.

As explained by Wikipedia, transaminases provide two main functions within the liver: breaking down amino acids and converting energy storage molecules. The amount of transaminases present in the plasma, or serum, portion of the blood is normally low. However, in the presence of liver damage, liver cell membranes become compromised and more permeable. They can thereby leak some of the enzymes into blood circulation.

A common cause for transaminitis is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition that is estimated to affect up to 30 percent of the population, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other common causes include medical-associated liver injury, viral hepatitis, hemochromatosis and alcoholic liver disease. Thyroid disorders, autoimmune hepatitis, celiac disease, hemolysis and muscle disorders are less common contributing conditions. Evidence to guide diagnostic efforts is limited but is usually comprised of testing procedures like blood work to check iron-binding capacity, fasting lipid profile and blood glucose measurement. Observation and re-evaluation are important aspects of a long-term liver analysis and may lead to additional testing, such as ultrasonography. Further evaluations, including liver biopsy, are recommended if transaminase levels remain elevated for a period of six months or more.


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