Prevalence of elevated alanine transaminase in Australia and its relationship to metabolic risk factors: A cross-sectional study of 9,447 people

Suzanne E. Mahady, Joanne Gale, Petra Macaskill, Jonathan C. Craig, Jacob George

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Background and Aim: Elevated alanine transaminase (ALT) is a strong predictor of metabolic syndrome, but there are few data from the Australian population. We aimed to determine the prevalence of elevated ALT and association with metabolic risk factors. Methods: In this cross-sectional study including adult participants (N = 9,447) from a nationwide, population-based survey, we assessed the prevalence of elevated ALT [defined as ≥ 40 IU/L (men) and ≥ 30 IU/L (women) as baseline, and ALT as ≥ 30 IU/L (men) and ≥ 19 IU/L (women) as lower threshold], distribution of metabolic risk factors, and independent predictors of elevated ALT in logistic regression models. Analyses were weighted to the population with population weights. Results: Elevated ALT levels were found in 11.2% of the Australian population. People with elevated ALT were younger (43 vs 46 yrs) with more truncal adiposity (100 vs 91 cm), higher pro-atherogenic lipids and glucose and exercised less (120 vs 160 min per week, P < 0.05 for all analyses). Regression analyses indicated that younger age, male sex, diabetes, triglycerides, apolipoprotein B, and waist circumference were independent predictors of elevated ALT. The population attributable fraction of elevated ALT due to truncal obesity was estimated at 47%. Conclusion: These data demonstrate a high prevalence of elevated ALT in the general population that is closely associated with metabolic risk factors. Individuals with elevated ALT should be evaluated for co-existent metabolic disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-176
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • ALT
  • cross-sectional study
  • metabolic syndrome
  • population

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