Transaminitis is a medical term that refers to elevated levels of liver enzymes, specifically aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT), in the blood. These enzymes play a crucial role in various metabolic processes within the liver. When their levels rise significantly, it can indicate underlying liver damage or dysfunction. Transaminitis is not a disease itself but rather a sign of an underlying health condition. This comprehensive article will delve into the various aspects of transaminitis, including its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

Understanding Liver Enzymes

Before we delve into the specifics of transaminitis, let’s briefly understand the role of liver enzymes, AST and ALT, in the body.

  1. Aspartate Aminotransferase (AST):

    • AST is an enzyme found predominantly in the liver, heart, skeletal muscles, kidneys, brain, and red blood cells.
    • It plays a vital role in the conversion of amino acids for energy production.
    • Elevated AST levels are generally associated with liver damage but can also be indicative of heart and muscle problems.
  2. Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT):

    • ALT is primarily found in the liver, with smaller amounts in the kidneys, heart, and muscles.
    • Its main function is to facilitate the conversion of amino acids for energy.
    • Elevated ALT levels are a more specific indicator of liver damage.

Causes of Transaminitis

Transaminitis can occur for various reasons, ranging from mild to severe. Some common causes include:

  1. Hepatitis: Viral hepatitis (such as hepatitis A, B, or C) can lead to acute transaminitis, with significant increases in AST and ALT levels.
  2. Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD): This condition, often associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome, can cause elevated liver enzymes.
  3. Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to alcoholic liver disease, causing transaminitis.
  4. Medications: Certain medications, such as acetaminophen, statins, and some antibiotics, can induce liver damage and result in transaminitis.
  5. Autoimmune Hepatitis: In this condition, the body’s immune system attacks the liver, leading to inflammation and elevated liver enzymes.
  6. Liver Cirrhosis: Advanced liver cirrhosis, often a consequence of chronic liver disease, can cause persistent transaminitis.
  7. Hemochromatosis: An inherited disorder causing iron buildup in the body, including the liver, can lead to elevated liver enzymes.
  8. Wilson’s Disease: Another genetic disorder that results in copper accumulation in the liver and can cause transaminitis.

Symptoms of Transaminitis

Transaminitis itself does not typically cause noticeable symptoms. Instead, it is often discovered during routine blood tests or when investigating the underlying condition causing it. However, when symptoms are present, they may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Mild abdominal discomfort
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • Dark urine
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Nausea and vomiting

Diagnosis of Transaminitis

Diagnosing transaminitis involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and laboratory tests:

  1. Medical History: Your healthcare provider will inquire about your medical history, including any underlying conditions, medications, alcohol consumption, and potential exposure to hepatitis.
  2. Physical Examination: A physical exam may reveal signs such as jaundice, abdominal tenderness, or an enlarged liver.
  3. Laboratory Tests: Blood tests to measure AST, ALT, and other liver function markers are essential. Additionally, tests for viral hepatitis, autoimmune disorders, and metabolic conditions may be ordered.
  4. Imaging: Imaging studies like ultrasound, CT scans, or MRI may be conducted to assess the liver’s structure and rule out structural abnormalities or liver disease.

Treatment of Transaminitis

The treatment of transaminitis primarily focuses on addressing the underlying cause:

  1. Viral Hepatitis: Antiviral medications may be prescribed for hepatitis B or C. For hepatitis A, supportive care is often sufficient.
  2. NAFLD and Alcoholic Liver Disease: Lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, dietary changes, and alcohol cessation can help manage these conditions.
  3. Medication-Induced Transaminitis: If a medication is the culprit, your healthcare provider may adjust the dosage or recommend an alternative medication.
  4. Autoimmune Hepatitis: Immunosuppressive medications like corticosteroids are often prescribed to control the immune system’s attack on the liver.
  5. Liver Cirrhosis: In advanced cases, liver transplant may be considered as a last resort.
  6. Genetic Disorders: Wilson’s disease and hemochromatosis require specific treatments to manage copper or iron accumulation.

Prevention of Transaminitis

Preventing transaminitis often involves lifestyle modifications and regular medical check-ups:

  1. Limit Alcohol Consumption: If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation or consider abstaining altogether.
  2. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity is a significant risk factor for NAFLD. Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can lower this risk.
  3. Medication Safety: Always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions when taking medications, and inform them of any adverse reactions.
  4. Vaccination: Hepatitis A and B vaccines are available and recommended for at-risk individuals.
  5. Regular Check-ups: Routine medical check-ups can help detect liver problems early, allowing for timely intervention.


Transaminitis serves as a crucial marker for liver health and is often a sign of underlying liver damage or dysfunction. Understanding the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention strategies related to transaminitis is essential for maintaining liver health. If you suspect you have transaminitis or are at risk, consult a healthcare provider for a comprehensive evaluation and guidance on appropriate management. Remember, early detection and intervention can significantly improve outcomes for liver-related conditions.