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High Liver Enzymes & High Blood Sugar

by
author image Kim Morrow
Kim Morrow specializes in health, food and nutrition. She holds a Bachelor of Science in nutritional sciences from Rutgers University and currently works as a registered dietitian in New Jersey.
High Liver Enzymes & High Blood Sugar
Close-up of a woman's hand who has just tested for blood sugar. Photo Credit Piotr Adamowicz/iStock/Getty Images

A simple blood test can check liver enzyme levels. Elevated levels can indicate liver damage; liver function is usually tightly regulated, but a damaged liver can "leak" extra enzymes into the bloodstream because its function is compromised. This liver damage can be acute or chronic. With either type of liver damage, many physiological functions, including blood sugar control, can be affected. It is important to correct the underlying cause of the liver dysfunction to prevent serious, long-term consequences.

Blood Sugar Regulation

The pancreas and liver regulate blood sugar. During digestion, all carbohydrates are eventually broken down into glucose, which is released into the bloodstream. The pancreas senses this increase in blood sugar and signals the secretion of insulin to the surface of cells throughout the body; insulin helps pull glucose from the blood and into the cell where it can be used for energy. Excess glucose is sent to the liver, where it is stored as glycogen; glycogen is used for energy during a state of starvation.

Functions of the Liver

The liver is located in the upper right portion of the abdomen, and plays a very important and diverse role in the body. It has many functions, including creating bile to digest fat, regulating blood clotting and blood sugar, and producing and regulating proteins, cholesterol and fat transporters. Additionally, all drugs and chemicals that enter the body are first filtered by the liver; harmful substances are broken down and excreted by the kidneys.

Liver and Blood Sugar

The liver is where excess glucose is brought and stored as glycogen, and it works closely with other organ systems to regulate blood sugar. In a healthy person, the pancreas senses when blood sugar is low, and releases glucagon -- a hormone that signals to the liver to release glycogen to raise blood sugar to a normal level. Typically, this happens during sleep or times of fasting -- even between meals -- when blood sugar becomes low due to lack of food. However, if liver enzymes are high, then the liver is malfunctioning. A damaged liver can lose control over this tight regulation of glycogen, and can release it even when it is unneeded, causing high blood sugar.

Treatment

High blood sugar and high liver enzymes can indicate a serious problem. Your doctor will most likely run further tests to determine the underlying cause of the abnormal lab data. Some causes of elevated liver enzymes are hepatitis A, B and C, alcoholism, cirrhosis and liver cancer. If liver damage is causing your high blood sugar, it is likely that your blood sugar will return to normal once your liver condition is diagnosed and under control.

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