Liver function tests in normal pregnancy: a prospective study of 103 pregnant women and 103 matched controls

Hepatology. 1996 May;23(5):1030-4. doi: 10.1002/hep.510230514.


Except for increased serum alkaline phosphatase (AP) levels, the changes in liver function test (LFT) values during normal pregnancy have not been clearly established, mainly because most studies do not include matched controls. We therefore measured the serum values of routine liver tests including 5'-nucleotidase and total bile acids in 103 healthy pregnant women (first trimester, n = 34; second trimester, n = 36; third trimester, n = 33) and in 103 age-matched controls not receiving oral contraception. Fasting blood samples were taken. Because of hemodilution, serum albumin levels were significantly lower during all trimesters. As expected, AP activity was significantly higher in the third trimester. Serum aspartate transaminase (AST) activity and total bile acid (TBA) concentrations did not differ between pregnant and nonpregnant women. Serum alanine transaminase (ALT) activity was slightly higher in the second-trimester pregnant women than in controls (6.8 +/- 4.5 vs. 8.2 +/- 5.8, P = .04), although all values remained within normal limits. In pregnant women, total and free bilirubin concentrations were significantly lower during all three trimesters, as was conjugated bilirubin during the second and third trimesters. Serum gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) activity was significantly lower in the second and third trimesters. Serum 5'-nucleotidase activity was slightly but significantly higher in the second and third trimesters. The knowledge of these results is useful for the interpretation of LFT values and the management of liver diseases during pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • 5'-Nucleotidase / blood
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Bilirubin / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver / enzymology
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Liver / physiology*
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Pregnancy / blood
  • Pregnancy / physiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Serum Albumin / metabolism
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / blood


  • Serum Albumin
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Alanine Transaminase
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • 5'-Nucleotidase
  • Bilirubin