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Test Quick Guide

Aldolase is an enzyme found mainly in the skeletal muscles, brain, and liver. This enzyme helps the body break down sugars to produce energy. When cells containing the enzyme are damaged, aldolase is released into the bloodstream.

High levels of aldolase in the blood can be a sign of muscle or organ damage. A blood test to check aldolase levels may be ordered when muscle or liver damage is suspected. Aldolase testing may also be used to monitor patients having treatment for diseases that affect the muscles.

About the Test

Purpose of the test

The purpose of aldolase testing is to diagnose and monitor certain conditions that damage the skeletal muscles and organs.

Aldolase testing may reveal muscle or organ damage that has occurred due to injury or a condition that affects the muscles or organs. As a diagnostic test, aldolase testing is used with other muscle enzyme tests to help diagnose muscle diseases like muscular dystrophy, polymyositis, and dermatomyositis.

Aldolase testing can also help doctors understand the cause of certain muscle disorders. Many disorders of the muscles originate in the nervous system and cause muscle weakness or pain. Measuring aldolase can help doctors learn whether the source of these muscle problems originates in the nervous system or in the tissues of the muscles themselves. .

Aldolase testing may also be used to monitor patients who are being treated for muscle diseases. Aldolase levels can provide information about how well a patient is responding to treatment and whether their condition is improving or worsening.

What does the test measure?

Aldolase is a type of protein, called an enzyme, that is found throughout the body, with the greatest amounts being in the skeletal muscles, liver and brain. Aldolase helps in the process of turning sugars like glucose and fructose into energy.

When cells in the muscles or liver are damaged, large amounts of aldolase are released into the bloodstream.

Aldolase may be higher than normal in many disorders, ranging from infectious diseases to cancer. However, because there are more specific tests for diagnosing many of these diseases, aldolase is only measured in certain conditions..

When should I get aldolase testing?

Aldolase testing may be used to diagnose myopathies, which are diseases and disorders of the muscles. These include:

  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Inflammatory muscle disorders like polymyositis and dermatomyositis
  • Rhabdomyolysis, a process in which the breakdown of muscle tissue
  • Muscle pain and weakness due to infectious diseases
  • Muscle problems caused by medications

Symptoms associated with myopathy include:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Cramps
  • Stiffness
  • Spasms
  • Muscle pain, called myalgia

Aldolase testing may also be used to monitor patients with previously diagnosed muscle disease. Monitoring enables doctors to see if the disease is getting better or worse.

When used to diagnose muscle or liver damage, additional enzyme tests are usually ordered at the same time to assess tissue damage.

Finding an Aldolase Test

How to get tested

Aldolase testing requires that a blood sample be provided. Typically, a doctor orders the test and a blood sample for analysis is drawn in a medical setting.

Can I take the test at home?

At this time, no commercial tests for aldolase are available for home use.

How much does the test cost?

The cost of aldolase testing depends on where you have the test taken, whether other tests are performed at the same time, and whether you have health care coverage.

The costs of testing may include an office visit, a fee for the blood draw, and a lab fee for analyzing your blood sample. These costs are often covered by insurance when the test is ordered by your physician. However, you may wish to check with your insurance provider to learn if you may be responsible for a deductible or copay.

Taking an Aldolase Test

Aldolase testing requires a blood sample. Typically, a small sample of blood will be withdrawn at a doctor’s office, lab, or other medical setting.

Before the test

You will likely be instructed not to eat or drink anything for 6 to 12 hours before giving your blood sample for aldolase testing. Patients may also be told to avoid vigorous exercise before the test. In some cases, your doctor may tell you to temporarily stop taking certain medications that could interfere with the test results.

During the test

During an aldolase test, a health care provider will extract a sample of blood, usually from a vein in your arm. First, an elastic band is tied around your upper arm to increase blood in the veins, and the puncture site is cleaned with an antiseptic. A small amount of blood is withdrawn using a needle attached to a collection tube.

You may feel a brief stinging sensation when the needle is inserted. It usually takes less than a minute to obtain a blood sample.

After the test

Once your blood sample has been taken, a bandage or cotton swab is used to prevent further bleeding. This usually needs to be kept in place for at least an hour.

You may return to your normal activities, including driving, after the test. Follow your doctor’s instructions for resuming exercise and medications. If you notice any lasting pain, bleeding, or signs of infection at the site where the blood was drawn, you should contact your doctor.

Aldolase Test Results

Receiving test results

Aldolase test results are usually available within a few business days. Your doctor or a member of the doctor’s staff may contact you to share results over the phone or to schedule an appointment to discuss them. You may also be able to access your test results through an online patient portal.

Interpreting test results

Reference ranges for aldolase levels, which define the cutoffs for normal and abnormal results, can vary by laboratory. It’s important to look closely at your test report, as results may also be provided in different units, such as international units per milliliter (IU/mL) or microkatals per litre (mckat/L). The table below lists reference ranges given in the National Library of Medicine’s A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia and by the American Board of Internal Medicine:

Measurement National Library of Medicine A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia Reference Range American Board of Internal Medicine Reference Range
Aldolase 0.02 to 0.13 mckat/L 0.8 to 3.0 IU/mL

A higher than normal level of aldolase may be related to a number of health conditions, including:

  • Muscle diseases, such as muscular dystrophy, polymyositis, and dermatomyositis
  • Muscle damage
  • Hepatitis, which is inflammation of the liver
  • Heart attack
  • Cancers, including liver, pancreatic or prostate cancer

Are test results accurate?

Common situations can interfere with aldolase test accuracy, creating false positive results which suggest a disorder is present when it is not. The following factors may interfere with accurate aldolase levels:

  • Strenuous activity prior to testing
  • Eating and drinking prior to testing
  • The use of statins, which are cholesterol-lowering drugs
  • The use of steroids, which are drugs similar to hormones that are given to reduce inflammation and calm the immune system

Because these factors may interfere with accurate results, it is important to carefully follow your doctor’s instructions on how to prepare for aldolase testing.

Do I need follow-up tests?

Follow-up after aldolase testing varies greatly based on the purpose of testing and the results of other tests that are often ordered simultaneously.

When muscle damage or a muscle disease is suspected, aldolase testing is usually ordered with other tests, such as creatine kinase (CK) and lactate dehydrogenase (LD).

When aldolase testing is ordered to check for liver damage, it is often ordered with other tests, such as alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST).

Questions for your doctor about test results

  • Is my aldolase level within the normal range?
  • Do my aldolase testing results help you diagnose or rule out any health disorders?
  • Will you order follow-up tests, and if so, what are they?

Sources

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. Aldolase blood test.  Updated October 18, 2019. Accessed September 2, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/003566.htm

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. Dermatomyositis. Updated January 31, 2021. Accessed September 2, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000839.htm

A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. Polymyositis. Updated September 1, 2021. Accessed September 2, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000428.htm

American Board of Internal Medicine. ABIM laboratory test reference ranges. Updated July 2021. Accessed September 2, 2021. https://www.abim.org/Media/bfijryql/laboratory-reference-ranges.pdf

Anastasopoulou C. Aldolase. In: Staros ED, ed. Medscape. Updated November 27, 2019 Accessed September 2, 2021. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/2087158-overview

MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine. Muscle disorders. Updated May 2, 2016. Accessed September 8, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/muscledisorders.html

MedlinePlus: National Library of Medicine. Steroids. Updated August 2, 2021. Accessed September 12, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/steroids.html

Miller ML. Approach to the patient with muscle weakness. In: Targoff IN, Shefner, JM, eds. UpToDate. Updated April 9, 2019. Accessed September 2, 2021. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/approach-to-the-patient-with-muscle-weakness

Miller ML. Muscle enzymes in the evaluation of neuromuscular disease. In: Targoff IN, Shefner, JM, eds. UpToDate. Updated May 26, 2020. Accessed September 2, 2021 https://www.uptodate.com/contents/muscle-enzymes-in-the-evaluation-of-neuromuscular-diseases

National Institution of Child Health and Human Development. How is muscular dystrophy diagnosed? Updated November 9, 2020. Accessed September 3, 2021. https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/musculardys/conditioninfo/diagnosed

National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke. Myopathy information page. Updated March 27, 2019. Accessed September 3, 2021. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/All-Disorders/Myopathy-Information-Page

National Institute of Neurologic Disorders and Stroke. Inflammatory myopathies fact sheet. Updated January 2020. Accessed September 3, 2021. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Inflammatory-Myopathies-Fact-Sheet

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