What is Serum Glutamic Pyruvic Transaminase (SGPT) test?

Liver is a vital organ. It performs various important functions including the removal of harmful toxins from blood, helping in digestion of food by secreting a substance called bile, and production of energy in body.

A group of tests called liver function tests (LFTs) are typically used for early diagnosis, comprehensive evaluation, and proper monitoring of liver dysfunction or damage. One of the most important LFTs is enzyme serum glutamic pyruvic transaminase (SGPT), also known as alanine aminotransferase (ALT), which is normally found in greater concentrations in liver. It is also present in smaller amounts in  kidneys, muscles and heart cells.

Damage to liver cells leads to secretion of SGPT into the bloodstream and hence increased levels of SGPT in blood can indicate liver dysfunction.

  1. Why is SGPT test performed?
  2. How do you prepare for SGPT test?
  3. How is SGPT test performed?
  4. What do SGPT test results mean?

SGPT test is performed to screen, detect and monitor liver diseases; as a part of routine check-up during hospitalization; or before surgery. This test is also useful in monitoring the safety of certain medications like those used to treat tuberculosis, pain medications and certain antibiotics.

SGPT test is usually combined with other LFTs like serum bilirubin and serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase to check for damage to the liver.

Symptoms suggestive of liver damage include:

In many patients, liver damage may be asymptomatic as well.

SGPT test may also be ordered by the doctor in individuals who have a high risk of developing liver dysfunction such as:

  • History of infection by hepatitis virus in the past
  • Family member suffering from liver dysfunction
  • People on medications that damage liver cells
  • Alcoholics (heavy drinkers)
  • Individuals with diabetes
  • Individuals that are obese (Read more: Obesity treatment)
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There are no special precautions or preparations required for this test. In case you have been advised additional blood tests, you should discuss with the doctor whether any precautions such as fasting are needed.

SGPT is a simple blood test, in which, a  laboratory technician takes a blood sample from a vein using a sterile needle; the sample is then transferred to a test tube. The procedure usually requires approximately 5-10 minutes. You may feel slight pain at the site of needle insertion. If this pain or discomfort persists, it is important to inform the doctor.

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SGPT test measures blood levels of the enzyme SGPT, which is usually measured in units per litre (U/L)

Normal results:

The normal values of SGPT in blood are 7 to 55 units per litre (U/L) for an adult (the normal range may vary slightly in different laboratories). If SGPT test results are normal, the doctor may advise further investigations to identify the cause of symptoms.

Abnormal results:

Although high levels of SGPT may indicate damage or injury to the liver, SGPT test is not used to diagnose a specific liver disease. Diagnosis of specific liver diseases can be made with further blood tests or radiological tests.

Increased SGPT levels may be seen in the following conditions:

  • Acute damage to the liver due to toxins, infections or some medications
  • Hepatitis (infection by hepatitis viruses)
  • Liver cirrhosis (usually results from alcoholism or hepatitis)
  • Certain medications
  • Bile duct obstruction
  • Heart damage
  • Muscle damage
  • Liver cancer

SGPT values may increase normally in the second trimester of a normal pregnancy.

SGPT test is usually evaluated in tandem with the results of other LFTs and may need specific radiological examination or ultrasonography for an accurate diagnosis.

Disclaimer: All results must be clinically correlated with the patient’s complaints to make a complete and accurate diagnosis. The above information is provided from a purely educational point of view and is in no way a substitute for medical advice by a qualified doctor.


  1. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; ALT Blood Test
  2. Lab Tests Online-Au; Australasian Association of Clinical Biochemist; Liver function tests
  3. LeFever, Joyce. (© 1999). Kee Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests with Nursing Implications 5th Edition: Appleton and Lange, Stanford, CT. Pp 15-17.
  4. Fischbach, Francis. (© 2000). A Manual of Laboratory and Diagnostic Tests 6th Edition: Lippincott, Philadelphia, PA. Pp 428-430.
  5. Burtis, Carl A., Ashwood, Edward R., & Bruns, David E. (© 2007). Tietz Fundamentals of Clinical Chemistry 6th Edition: Saunders, Philadelphia, PA. Pp 318-319, 322-324, 686-688.
  6. American Liver Foundation [internet]. New York (NY): American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases; Your Liver
  7. Gowda S, Desai PB, Hull VV, Math AA, Vernekar SN, Kulkarni SS. A review on laboratory liver function tests.. Pan Afr Med J. 2009 Nov 22;3:17. PMID: 21532726
  8. Am Fam Physician. 2005 Mar 15;71(6):1105-1110. [Internet] American Academy of Family Physicians; Mildly Elevated Liver Transaminase Levels in the Asymptomatic Patient.
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