Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) is found in high concentrations in liver, heart, skeletal muscle, and kidney. AST is present in both cytoplasm and mitochondria of cells. In cases involving mild tissue injury, the predominant form of AST is that from the cytoplasm. Severe tissue damage results in more of the mitochondrial enzyme being released. High levels of AST can be found in cases such as myocardial infarction, acute liver cell damage, viral hepatitis, and carbon tetrachloride poisoning. Slight to moderate elevation of AST is seen in muscular dystrophy, dermatomyositis, acute pancreatitis, and crushed muscle injuries.
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