Liver Function Blood Test

Your liver is your body’s largest solid organ and is vital for your body’s metabolic, detoxification, and immune system functions. Without a functioning liver, death occurs.

What’s does the liver do?

The liver’s major functions are in the metabolic processes of the body. These include:

  • breaking down or converting certain substances
  • balancing energy metabolism by converting glycogen to glucose and storing extra glucose by converting it to glycogen
  • making toxins less harmful to the body and removing them from the bloodstream

The many cells of the liver, known as hepatocytes, accept and filter blood. They act as sorting centres, determining:

  • which nutrients should be processed
  • what should be stored
  • what should be eliminated via the stool
  • what should go back to the blood

The liver also plays major roles in the following:

  • creating immune system factors that can fight against infection
  • creating proteins responsible for blood clotting
  • breaking down old and damaged red blood cells
  • storing extra blood sugar as glycogen

When taking all this into consideration, it’s easy to see how important the liver is to your health.

The liver’s regenerative ability

The liver is truly an amazing organ in that it has the capacity to regenerate. This means that after an injury or surgery to remove tissue, the liver tissue can grow back, to a certain extent.

The liver starts growing back by having the existing cells enlarge. Then, new liver cells start to multiply.

Within a week after removing two-thirds of the liver, the liver can return to the same weight it was before surgery. It is believed it can do this repeatedly.

Liver disease and damage

However, the liver is not indestructible and it can be damaged through excessive drugs and alcohol, hepatitis, cancer, genetics, family history of liver disease, fatty liver disease and certain medications. Obesity and diabetes can also increase the risk of liver disease.

Untreated liver damage/disease may progress to liver failure, a life-threatening condition.

What is a liver test function?

Liver tests measure specific enzymes and proteins in your blood and can help determine if your liver is working correctly. The liver performs a number of vital bodily functions, such as:

  • removing contaminants and bacteria from your blood
  • converting nutrients from the foods you eat
  • regulating blood sugar levels
  • storing minerals and vitamins
  • regulating blood clotting
  • producing cholesterol, proteins, enzymes, and bile
  • making factors that fight infection
  • processing substances that could harm your body
  • maintaining hormone balances

Problems with the liver can make a person very sick and can even be life-threatening.

What are the symptoms of a liver disorder?

Symptoms of a liver disorder include:

  • jaundice (yellowing of skin and eyes) – the most common symptom
  • weakness, fatigue or loss of energy
  • weight loss
  • fluid collection in the abdomen
  • discoloured bodily waste (dark urine or light stools)
  • nausea or vomiting
  • diarrhoea
  • abdominal pain
  • abnormal bruising or bleeding

If you are experiencing some of these symptoms make an appointment with your doctor to discuss.

A liver function test is often recommended in the following situations:

  • if you drink alcohol heavily
  • to check for damage from liver infections, such as hepatitis B and hepatitis C
  • to monitor the side effects of certain medications known to affect the liver
  • if you already have a liver disease, to monitor the disease and how well a particular treatment is working
  • if you’re experiencing the symptoms of a liver disorder
  • if you have certain medical conditions such as high triglyceridesdiabetes, high blood pressure, or anaemia
  • if you have gallbladder disease

Who should have a liver function test?

A liver function is advised if you:

  • drink alcohol regularly or are a binge drinker
  • are anorexic or bulimic or suffer from another eating disorder
  • are taking medications that cause toxic liver disease, which includes too much paracetamol, ibuprofen & aspirin
  • have family history of liver disease
  • have had gallstones
  • have had gastrointestinal disease (e.g. IBS)
  • take performance enhancing drugs, including steroids and creatine

What is tested in a liver function test?

A liver function test is a series of tests that measure the levels of proteins, liver enzymes, and bilirubin in your blood to determine the health of your liver.

Commonly used tests to check liver abnormalities are:

  • Alanine transaminase (ALT)
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP)
  • Bilirubin
  • Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase (GGT)
  • Total protein
    • Albumin
    • Globulin

Alanine transaminase (ALT)

Alanine transaminase (ALT) is used by your body to metabolise protein (break down food into energy). ALT levels in the blood are normally low.

Liver damage generally causes an increase in ALT levels. The ALT test can evaluate the levels of ALT in your bloodstream, but it can’t show how much liver damage there is or how much fibrosis, or scarring, is present. The test also can’t predict how severe the liver damage will become.

A higher than normal ALT level can be a sign of liver damage and may be the result of:

  • hepatitis, which is an inflammatory condition of the liver
  • cirrhosis, which is severe scarring of the liver
  • death of liver tissue
  • a tumour or cancer in the liver
  • a lack of blood flow to the liver
  • hemochromatosis, which is a disorder that causes iron to build up in the body
  • mononucleosis, which is an infection usually caused by the Epstein-Barr virus
  • pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas
  • diabetes

Most lower-level ALT results indicate a healthy liver. Fluctuation of ALT levels is normal over the course of the day, and can also increase in response to strenuous physical exercise.

Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) test

Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) is an enzyme found in your kidneys, bones, bile ducts, and liver that helps break down proteins in the body.

An ALP test may be performed to determine how well your liver and gallbladder are functioning or to identify problems with your bones.

High levels of ALP may indicate a problem with your liver, gallbladder, or bones. However, they may also indicate malnutrition, kidney cancer tumours, intestinal issues, a pancreas problem, or a serious infection.

The ALP test can be helpful in identifying conditions such as:

  • Hepatitis (inflammation of the liver)
  • Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
  • Cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder)
  • blockage of bile ducts (from a gallstone, inflammation, or cancer)
  • liver damage from certain types of medication
  • Osteoporosis, rickets or osteomalacia – a weakening or softening of the bones
  • Paget’s disease of bone – a disorder causing major problems with bone destruction and regrowth
  • Cancer or tumours


Bilirubin is a natural waste product formed by the breakdown of the haemoglobin in your red blood cells. The liver then processes bilirubin before its removal from your body in your stool.

A damaged liver can’t properly process bilirubin. This leads to an abnormally high level of bilirubin in the blood so a high result on the bilirubin test may indicate that the liver isn’t functioning properly.

Causes of high bilirubin levels include:

  • Gallstones
  • Gilbert’s Syndrome (a genetic liver condition that causes your liver to not process bilirubin properly.)
  • Liver dysfunction, e.g. cirrhosis, liver cancer, autoimmune disorders involving the liver
  • Hepatitis
  • Bile duct inflammation
  • Certain types of anaemia

Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase (GGT)

The enzyme Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase (GGT) is found throughout the body, but it is most concentrated in your liver. This makes a GGT blood test very useful helping to assess liver function and general health.

GGT levels are usually low, but can rise following liver damage. A GGT test is also particularly sensitive to detecting bile duct problems. Generally, the higher the GGT level the greater the damage to the liver.

Some of the conditions that result in increased GGT include:

  • overuse of alcohol
  • chronic viral hepatitis
  • lack of blood flow to the liver
  • liver tumor
  • cirrhosis, or scarred liver
  • overuse of certain drugs or other toxins
  • heart failure
  • diabetes
  • pancreatitis
  • fatty liver disease

GGT is often measured relative to another enzyme, alkaline phosphatase (ALP). If GGT and ALP are both elevated, doctors will suspect that you have problems with your liver or the bile ducts. If GGT is normal and ALP is elevated, this could indicate bone disease. Your doctor may use the GGT test in this way to rule out certain problems.

Total Protein Test

The total protein test measures the blood levels of two different classes of proteins; albumin and globulin. If protein levels are low, it can mean that you have liver or kidney disease.

Albumin test

Albumin is the main protein made by your liver. It performs many important bodily functions. For example, albumin:

  • stops fluid from leaking out of your blood vessels
  • nourishes your tissues
  • transports hormones, vitamins, and other substances throughout your body

An albumin test measures how well your liver is making this particular protein. A low result on this test can indicate that your liver isn’t functioning properly.


Globulins are a group of proteins in your blood. (They make up nearly half of the total protein in your blood). They are made in your liver by your immune system and they are vital for normal liver function, blood clotting, and fighting infection.

The amount of globulins in your blood helps indicate many conditions such as liver damage, kidney diseases, autoimmune conditions or nutritional problems.

Proteins are absorbed from foods and are vital parts of all cells and tissues. They are used to build muscles, skin, blood, bones and cartilage as well as making enzymes, hormones and other essential chemicals.

Order a Liver Function Test Kit

Order a Liver Function Test Kit. Our Liver Function home blood test kit checks multiple markers to measure normal liver function and to detect the presence of liver disease and other liver disorders.

The liver plays a complex role in the body including the metabolism of drugs and toxic substances, management of blood sugar levels, vitamin storage and maintaining hormonal balance.

Fortunately, the liver has an incredible capacity to regenerate, and can respond well to healthy lifestyle changes.

Get the convenience of home testing with the reassurance of professional clinical analysis. Your results are delivered quickly and securely online.

This Liver Function Blood Test is advised if you:

  • are anorexic or bulimic or suffer from another eating disorder
  • are taking medications that cause toxic liver disease, which includes too much paracetamol, ibuprofen & aspirin
  • drink alcohol regularly or are a binge drinker
  • have family history of liver disease
  • have had gallstones
  • have had gastrointestinal disease (e.g. IBS)
  • take performance enhancing drugs, including steroids and creatine
  • want the convenience of home testing without waiting for a GP appointment
  • need a high quality, clinically accredited test done in a professional clinical laboratory

What is tested?

  1. Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT)
  2. Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP)
  3. Bilirubin
  4. Gamma-Glutamyl Transferase (GGT)
  5. Globulins
  6. Total Protein (TP)

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SYMPTOMS: jaundice (yellowing of skin/eyes), fatigue or loss of energy, weight loss, fluid collection in the abdomen, discoloured bodily waste (dark urine or light stools), nausea or, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, abnormal bruising or bleeding

May 6, 2020