Gamma-glutamyl-Transferase-(GGT)-Test

For prolonged symptoms of chronic stomach pain, fatigue, and poor appetite, your doctor may recommend the GGT or Gamma-glutamyl Transferase test. GGT is an essential enzyme found in the body’s cells and tissues, mainly in the liver. 

Test for GGT is a liver function test often done to detect liver diseases and bone disorders. However, the GGT test cannot pinpoint the specific cause of the liver condition. The tests performed with other liver function tests can rule out other medical conditions based on the abnormal test outcomes. 

This article dives into what the GGT is, 

  • When and how it is done, 
  • Normal and abnormal result interpretation, and 
  • Cost of the GGT test in India.

GGT test: What is it?

Gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) or gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase is an enzyme found in every cell and tissue of the body. Primarily concentrated in the liver, GGT is involved in all the prime functions of the liver.

A gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) blood test or gamma GT test assesses the GGT levels in the blood. When the liver or bile ducts get damaged, GGT may leak into the bloodstream. Thus, elevated levels of GGT in the blood mean that the liver or bile ducts are injured or damaged.  

Typically, the GGT test is highly sensitive for detecting bile and liver problems, as GGT increases even when the liver or bile ducts are slightly blocked or constricted. The GGT levels also spike up when certain medications- phenobarbital, warfarin, etc., are administered and abusive alcohol intake.

However, as many reasons can lead to elevated GGT, the GGT liver function test is usually considered with other liver function tests such as:

  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) blood test,
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) blood test,
  • Lactic dehydrogenase (LDH) blood or fluid assay

When is the GGT test done?

The reasons for performing a GGT test can be many, from understanding the possibility of liver damage or bile duct constriction to alcohol hepatitis. The reasons for the test are explained below. 

  • Increased alkaline phosphatase (ALP) level in the blood: ALP increase alone indicates bone disorders. However, elevated ALP and GGT point out liver or bile duct problems. 
  • Symptoms of liver disease or bile duct issues: For symptoms such as;
  • Nausea,
  • Vomiting,
  • Belly (abdominal) pain,
  • Itchy skin,
  • Jaundice– yellowing of the skin, eyes, and nails,
  • Tiredness or fatigue,
  • Loss of appetite, GGT along with ALT, AST, ALP, and bilirubin tests are done to determine the specific liver or bile duct disorder,
  • Screen alcohol use disorder: Alcohol consumption increases the GGT levels in the blood, 
  • Monitor the treatment progress for alcohol abuse: GGT test helps monitor the condition of the liver while undergoing treatment for alcohol use disorder and alcohol hepatitis

How is the GGT test done?

The GGT test is a routinely performed blood test where the lab technician draws a certain amount of blood from the veins of the arms. Medications, supplements, and alcohol consumption can affect the GGT levels. 

Before the test, inform your physician about the medications and other habits. Your doctor will guide you through the process and let you know whether the medications are necessary during the test or not. It is also paramount to avoid alcohol at least 24 hours before the test. 

Interpretation of GGT test results

The normal range for gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) varies between laboratories. The reference range of GGT in adults is 5 to 40 U/L (units per liter). GGT levels are usually higher in men compared to women. Also, In women, the GGT levels increase with increasing age. 

Lower than the reference range of GGT shows less likelihood of having a liver disorder. However, high gamma GT means that the condition in the body is damaging the liver. Though GGT cannot help understand the specific reason for the damage, the higher the GGT, the greater the damage. 

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Some of the conditions caused when the gamma-glutamyl transferase levels go high are:  

  • Inflammation of the liver or Hepatitis due to viral infection or abusive alcohol consumption,
  • Liver scarring or Liver Cirrhosis, 
  • Blockage of bile ducts or Liver Cholestasis, 
  • Alcohol liver disease,
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,
  • Liver tissue damage and death causing obstructed blood flow to the liver- Liver ischemia, 
  • Cancer or tumour in the liver, 
  • Alcohol use disorder or alcohol addiction,
  • Pancreatic cancer or pancreatitis, 
  • Diabetes,
  • Heart failure,
  • Certain medications cause damage to the liver,

GGT blood test report, along with other blood tests, liver function tests, and medical history, is conducted to diagnose the condition and move ahead with the treatment. 

GGT test cost in India

The GGT test cost varies from city to city and laboratory to laboratory. The approximate pricing of GGT in major cities of India is

Name of the city Approx cost of GGT test
Noida, Faridabad, Ghaziabad ₹ 98.0
Delhi ₹ 120.0
Bangalore or Bengaluru ₹ 120.0
Gurugram or Gurgaon ₹ 132.0
Chennai ₹ 240.0
Hyderabad ₹ 240.0
Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane ₹ 240.0

NOTE: The cost of GGT blood test is subject to change

Conclusion

The gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) test helps detect the likelihood of liver damage, bone disorder, bile duct obstruction, and even alcohol use disorder. The GGT enzyme, mainly present in the cells and tissues of the liver, carries out various liver functions. It is one of the first liver enzymes that spike up when the liver undergoes any damage, inflammation, or liver duct constriction. 

Generally, a GGT test, done with another liver function test, helps determine the specific cause of symptoms- nausea, jaundice, stomach issues, appetite loss, and more. Consult your doctor to know more about the GGT test and get evaluated for any condition.

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Dr. Divya Rohra has completed her MBBS from Grant Medical College and Sir JJ Group of Hospitals, Mumbai in 2019 with an excellent academic and clinical record. She has been the Joint Academic & Research Secretary of her batch in the year 2016-17 and successfully conducted various conferences and CMEs at her college. She has been the Director of Editorial and Web Communications of Rotaract Club of the Caduceus for two years. She has worked as a Paediatrics House Officer and Covid-19 Medical Officer at Mumbai. She has participated in various Quiz competitions, Poster Presentations, Symposia, Medical Documentary making competitions during her UG days and won awards for the same. She is working with PregaJunction as a Medical Content Auditor.

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