What is aldolase?
Your body converts a form of sugar called glucose into energy. This process requires a number of different steps. One important component in the process is an enzyme known as aldolase.
Aldolase can be found throughout the body, but concentrations are highest in skeletal muscle and the liver.
Although there’s not a direct correlation, high aldolase levels in the blood can occur if there’s damage to your muscle or liver.
Why is the aldolase test ordered?
The aldolase test measures the amount of aldolase in your blood. Increased levels of this enzyme may indicate a serious health problem.
Elevated aldolase is usually a sign of muscle or liver damage. For example, muscle damage from a heart attack releases aldolase in large quantities. Liver damage, such as hepatitis or cirrhosis, raises aldolase levels as well.
In the past, the aldolase test was used to look for liver or muscle damage. Today, doctors use more specific blood tests, including:
- creatine kinase (CK)
- alanine aminotransferase (ALT)
- aspartate aminotransferase (AST)
The aldolase test is no longer used routinely. However, it may be ordered if you have muscular dystrophy.
It can also be used to assess rare genetic disorders of the skeletal muscles, such as dermatomyositis and polymyositis (PM).
How is the aldolase test administered?
The aldolase test is a blood test, so you will be required to give a blood sample. The sample is usually taken by a technician.
To take this sample, they insert a needle into a vein of your arm or hand and collect the blood in a tube. The sample is then sent to a lab for analysis and the results reported to your doctor, who will review them with you.
What are the risks of the aldolase test?
You may experience some discomfort, such as pain at the test site, when the blood sample is drawn. There may also be some brief, mild pain or throbbing at the site after the test.
In general, the risks of a blood test are minimal. Potential risks include:
- difficulty obtaining a sample, resulting in multiple needle sticks
- excessive bleeding at the needle site
- fainting as a result of blood loss
- accumulation of blood under the skin, known as a hematoma
- an infection where the skin is broken by the needle
How do you prepare for the aldolase test?
Your doctor will tell you how to prepare for the test. Typically, you won’t be able to eat or drink anything for 6 to 12 hours before the test.
It’s important to note that exercise can affect aldolase test results. Let your doctor know about your regular exercise program. You might be told to limit exercise for several days before the test, as exercise can cause you to have temporarily high aldolase results.
Your doctor may also ask you to stop taking medications that may alter test results. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you are taking. This includes both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs.
What do the test results mean?
The specific ranges for an abnormal test may vary slightly by a laboratory, and there are slight differences between normal levels for men and women.
In general, normal results can range from 1.0 to 7.5 units per liter (U/L) for people 17 years old and up. Normal results for people up to 16 years old can reach 14.5 U/L.
High or abnormal aldolase levels
Higher or abnormal levels may be due to health conditions, including:
- muscle damage
- viral hepatitis
- cancers of the liver, pancreas, or prostate
- muscular dystrophy
- heart attack
Aldolase testing for conditions that cause high aldolase levels (hyperaldolasemia) isn’t straightforward. Conditions or diseases causing muscle mass to decrease can result in hyperaldolasemia. At first, muscle destruction causes higher aldolase levels. However, aldolase levels actually decline as the amount of muscle in the body decreases.
Let your doctor know if you’ve recently engaged in strenuous activity, which can cause you to have temporarily high or misleading results.
Low aldolase levels
Less than 2.0 to 3.0 U/L is considered a low level of aldolase. Low levels of aldolase can be seen in people with:
- fructose intolerance
- muscle-wasting disease
- late-stage muscular dystrophy