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Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is present primarily in liver cells. In viral hepatitis and other forms of liver disease associated with hepatic necrosis, serum ALT is elevated even before the clinical signs and symptoms of the disease appear. Although serum levels of both aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and ALT become elevated whenever disease processes affect liver cell integrity, ALT is a more liver-specific enzyme. Serum elevations of ALT are rarely observed in conditions other than parenchymal liver disease. Moreover, the elevation of ALT activity persists longer than does AST activity.
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