Objectives: A liver biopsy is performed mainly to stage primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). In viral hepatitis, alcoholic liver disease and in primary biliary cirrhosis, the ratio of aspartate to alanine aminotransferase (AST/ALT) has been proven to be an indicator of liver cirrhosis. We wanted to test whether or not an AST/ALT ratio >/=1 is an indicator of cirrhosis also in patients with PSC.
Methods: A cohort of 154 patients diagnosed with PSC was studied retrospectively. Laboratory tests and the histological stage were scored.
Results: The mean AST/ALT ratio in the cirrhotic patients at the time of the first (n=117) as well as the last (n=72) histological examination was higher (1.3+/-0.5 and 1.6+/-0.7, respectively) than in the non-cirrhotic patients (0.7+/-0.4 and 1.0 +/-0.4, respectively) (P<0.0001 and P=0.0002, respectively). An AST/ALT ratio >/=1 was a strong predictor for liver-related death/orthotopic liver transplantation and liver-related death, being associated with a double and an almost fourfold higher risk, respectively.
Conclusion: An AST/ALT ratio >/=1 is significantly associated with the presence of cirrhosis and poor outcome in PSC. It may therefore be a valuable non-invasive method for indicating cirrhosis in patients with PSC.