Prevalence and Long-term Course of Macro-Aspartate Aminotransferase in Children

Maria Caropreso, Giuliana Fortunato, Selvaggia Lenta, Daniela Palmieri, Marianna Esposito, Dino Franco Vitale, Raffaele Iorio, Pietro Vajro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To investigate the prevalence, association with clinical conditions, and long-term course of macro-aspartate aminotransferase (macro-AST). Study design: Forty-four children with an isolated elevation of serum AST were screened for macro-AST with electrophoresis and % polyethylene glycol (PEG) precipitable activity (PPA). Results: All children were healthy, except they had elevated AST values. Seventeen children (38.6%) were macro-AST-positive. They had higher AST values than the 27 children who were macro-AST-negative (P = .001). Values 82.2% PPA were associated with a very low probability of being macro-AST-positive and macro-AST-negative, respectively. Thirty-eight children underwent clinical and laboratory follow-up (mean, 4.7 ± 3.8; range, 1-16 years). All remained symptom-free. AST levels decreased significantly only in children who were macro-AST-negative (P = .006). Macroenzyme persisted in 6 of the 9 children who were macro-AST-positive after 6.0 ± 4.1 years. Conclusions: Macro-AST was present in more than one-third of children with an isolated increase of AST levels. The lack of pathological correlates in a long period argues for the benign nature of this phenomenon in childhood. We suggest that our %PPA thresholds can be used as a screening test and that electrophoresis be reserved for confirming positive screen test results and cases in which %PPA levels are of intermediate discriminant accuracy.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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