Gamma GT: standards, high, low, what is it?

The gamma GTs are measured during a blood test carried out during a liver test. A high level is a warning sign of liver damage. What is the standard? What to do if the gamma GT level is high? Too low ? How to bring them down quickly? Easily interpret its results.

the gamma GT blood test is carried out duringa classic liver test (transaminases, gamma GT), allows to see liver health and to detect possible diseases. In effect, in case of inflammation or infection in the liverthe level of gamma GT in the blood increase. For whom is the gamma GT dosage indicated? How is the exam going ? How can you interpret the results of your blood test? What if the rate exceeds the standards and is too high? On the contrary, too low ? Answers from Pr Patrick Marcellin, hepatologist at Beaujon Hospital (AH-PH) and President of the APHC (Association for improving the care of patients with chronic liver disease).

Definition: what are gamma GTs?

The more the liver suffers, the higher the level of gamma GT.

The gamma GT (glutamyl-transpeptidases or gammaglutamyl-transferases) are enzymes which transfer amino acids between cells. “These enzymes are essentially contained in the cells of the liver and from the moment when the latter suffer, these enzymes are released abnormally“, specifies Professor Patrick Marcellin. If the liver functions normally, without hepatic suffering, these enzymes are always present in the blood, but at a low rate. When the rate exceeds the normal value, or even if it approaches the upper limit of normal (maximum tolerated value before making an assessment) defined by the laboratory, it is necessary to carry out additional examinations, In short, an increase in gamma GT is a warning sign of liver damage. The more the liver suffers, the higher the level of gamma GT.

When to do a gamma GT assay?

Measuring the level of gamma GT in the blood is part of a liver test in people at high risk of liver problems or if inflammation or infection of the liver is suspected. Generally, during a liver test, transaminases and gamma GT are measured“, explains Professor Patrick Marcellin. In short, “measuring their concentration is an excellent indicator of the functioning of the liver and makes it possible to direct the search for the cause of a high level. Since liver diseases are silent and asymptomatic, it is important to carry out liver tests (assay of gamma GTs and transaminases) regularly”. he advises.

The doctor can prescribe a gamma GT assay during a consultation or at the hospital. To carry out this examination, it will be necessary to make an appointment in a medical analysis laboratory and bring your medical prescription, your carte vitale and your health insurance card. Know thatit is not necessary to be fasting to perform this assay, unless a blood glucose assay is performed at the same time. Here are the steps for the gamma GT review:

► The doctor places a tourniquet around your arm to compress the veins and arteries. The vein swollen by the tourniquet is thus more visible and facilitates the realization of the blood test,

► The doctor then takes one or more tubes of blood depending on their capacity. After sampling, usually at the bend of the elbow, pressure is applied to the puncture site for a few seconds.

► The blood is sent to the laboratory for analysis.

► The examination is painless and does not require any specific instructions when leaving the laboratory. You can eat right after and live normally. One to two days later, you will receive the results by mail. The laboratory can sometimes send the results directly to the prescribing doctor. If this is not the case, send your doctor the results so that he can decide whether to carry out additional examinations or prescribe a possible treatment. And this, even if the results seem completely normal to you in view of the standards indicated by the laboratory.

Standards: what are the normal Gamma GTs?

These standards are given for information only and may vary slightly depending on the technique used in each laboratory:

Normal value of gamma GT blood level (at 37°C)
Man Between 10 and 45 IU/L (unit per liter of blood)
Women Between 7 and 35 IU/L (unit per liter of blood)
Child from one year Between 7 and 35 IU/L (unit per liter of blood)

The GT gamma level is visible on the results of the blood test in the “enzymology“.

Augmented Gamma GT: a sign of what?

Even moderate alcohol consumption may be enough to raise gamma GT levels in some people.

A discrete elevation of gamma GTs is usually benign in the majority of people. It will still be necessary to determine the cause (age-related weight gain, taking medication, etc.) and monitor this increase to ensure that it does not change. Otherwise, “Even moderate alcohol consumption may be enough to raise gamma GT levels in some people. Just like taking certain medications (barbiturates, antidiabetics, the pill, drugs against blood pressure, against uric acid, sleeping pills), overweight, obesity, as well as excess fat in the liver (“fatty liver “or steatosis, in particular linked to overweight, poor diet and lack of exercise)“, specifies Professor Patrick Marcellin.

Very high Gamma GT: the sign of what?

If the increase in gamma GT persists or is abnormally high, additional examinations are necessary to check the state of health of the liver. “A level of gamma GT in the blood higher than the normal value (between one and two times the normal value) can reveal inflammation or infection of the liver or bile ducts. The origins are multiple and are more or less serious: chronic and acute hepatitis (generally, the level of gamma GT is ten times higher than the normal value), viral, medicinal, toxic, alcoholotoxic, bronchopulmonary attack, obstruction of the bile ducts , myocardial infarction, hyperthyroidism, pancreatitis, diabetes, hemochromatosis (excess iron absorption)“. To establish a diagnosis, it will be necessary to carry out blood test of liver activity including at least the blood test for transaminases, albumin and bilirubin, an interview (on taking medication, alcohol consumption, family history), a clinical examination (height, weight) as well as a liver ultrasound and sometimes elastometry (Fibroscan) to quantify fat in the liver. Namely that a rate of gamma GT which would be 100 times higher than the normal value would bring a risk offulminant hepatitis, which could lead to hepatic coma. However, this is an extreme and exceptional case.

Gamma GT low: the sign of what?

A low gamma GT level shows the absence of liver damage. However, the pregnancy is likely to influence the rate of gamma GTs downwards.

Varying gamma GT levels: why?

Gamma GT naturally increases with age (from 50/60 years old depending on the individual) and weight. It can also vary according to sex: women, for example, have on average a gamma GT level 20% lower than the gamma GT level of men. In case of overweight, the rate of gamma GT can vary from 20 to 100%. When taking medication, the level of gamma GT also changes.

What drugs increase gamma GT?

Certain types of drugs increase the level of gamma GT. This is particularly the case for antibiotics, anticonvulsants, anticancer drugs, antidepressants and certain oral contraceptives (pills).

  • Stop or limit alcohol consumption as much as possible. In the case of chronic alcoholism, the levels drop rapidly after the onset of complete withdrawal, on average within 48 hours.
  • Watch your diet: reduce your intake of fats, processed products and foods with high glycemic indexes (white pasta, white bread, soda, red meats, etc.) and favor whole grains (wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta, brown rice). ..)
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables, which will help detoxify the liver
  • Lose a few pounds if overweight.
  • Have regular physical activity: 2 to 3 sessions of 30 to 45 minutes per week.

On the health forum: discussions about gamma GTs

To remember

► An increase in gamma GT is a warning sign of liver damage. Even a slight elevation should prompt a search for metabolic problems.

► The three main causes of an elevation of gamma GT and therefore of a suffering liver are: excess fat in the liver, excessive alcohol consumption and viruses (chronic hepatitis B and C).

► Liver diseases being silent and asymptomatic, it is important to carry out a liver test regularly. This examination is simple, common, painless and non-invasive.

Thanks to Professor Patrick Marcellin, hepatologist at Beaujon Hospital (AH-PH) and President of the APHC (Association for improving the care of patients with chronic liver disease). Also discover : Hepato-Biliary Center website

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