The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism Journal Article

Liver Enzymes in Children and Adolescents

October 16, 2019
 

Magnus J Johansen, Julie Gade, Stefan Stender, Christine Frithioff-Bøjsøe, Morten A V Lund, Elizaveta Chabanova, Henrik S Thomsen, Oluf Pedersen, Cilius E Fonvig, Torben Hansen, Jens-Christian Holm
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 105, Issue 2, February 2020, dgz010
https://doi.org/10.1210/clinem/dgz010

Abstract

Background

Elevated plasma concentrations of liver enzymes are routinely used as markers of liver injury in adults and children. Currently, the age- and sex-specific effects of adiposity on pediatric liver enzyme concentrations are unclear.

Methods

We included participants from 2 cohorts of Danish children and adolescents: 1858 from a population-based cohort and 2155 with overweight or obesity, aged from 6 to 18 years. Age- and sex-specific percentile curves were calculated for fasting plasma concentrations of alanine transaminase (ALT), aspartate transaminase (AST), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT), bilirubin, and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) in both cohorts. Hepatic fat content was assessed by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy in 458 participants.

Results

Concentrations of ALT, AST, LDH, and ALP decreased with age in both girls and boys, while GGT and bilirubin were comparable across age groups in girls and increased slightly with age in boys. Children and adolescents with overweight or obesity exhibited higher concentrations of ALT in all age groups. Concentrations of ALT, and to a lesser degree GGT, increased with age in boys with overweight or obesity. Optimal ALT cut-points for diagnosing hepatic steatosis (liver fat content > 5%) was 24.5 U/L for girls (sensitivity: 55.6%, specificity: 84.0%), and 34.5 U/L for boys (sensitivity: 83.7%, specificity: 68.2%).

Conclusions

Pediatric normal values of liver enzymes vary with both age and sex. Overweight and obesity is associated with elevated biochemical markers of liver damage. These findings emphasize the need for prevention and treatment of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents. (J Clin Endocrinol Metab XX: 0–0, 2019)

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