Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology
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Year : 2003  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 15-19
Gammaglutamyl transpeptidase activity in patients with schistosomiasis

1 Dr. Al Mofarreh Polyclinic, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2 Dept of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, King Khalid University Hospital, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

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Date of Submission06-Oct-2002
Date of Acceptance04-Jan-2003


Background: Schistosoma mansoni infestation may induce liver fibrosis and portal hypertension, with possible elevation of liver enzymes. Aim of the study: The aim of this study was to evaluate the serum gammaglutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) activity in a group of non-alcoholic and non-obese patients with hepatointestinal schistosomiasis. Patients and methods: Medical records of 174 patients diagnosed to have hepatointestinal schistosomiasis on the basis of clinical and laboratory data were reviewed. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated for all patients. Direct stool smear and formol-ether concentration (FEC) methods and hematological and biochemical blood tests were performed. Other studies including abdominal ultrasonography, upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopy was also performed when feasible. All (174) patients were adults with male to female ratio of 3.8:1. BMI was similar in both groups. Patients were divided into two groups: group 1 (57) with elevated GGT and group 2 (117) patients with normal GGT. Both groups had positive indirect hemagglutination test (IHA) for schistosomiasis. Other causes of liver disease were excluded. Results: Group 1 had significant elevation of alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and reduction in platelets (p <0.001), low albumin and high globulin levels (p <0.01) compared to group 2. Abnormal ultrasonographic findings were more frequently encountered in group 1 (p <0.001). Conclusion: The above data indicated that GGT elevation was most likely secondary to hepatobiliary involvement by Schistosoma mansoni and may indicate chronicity. Therefore schistosomiasis has to be considered in our community whenever GGT is elevated in non­alcoholic population

Keywords: GGT, Non-Alcoholics, Schistosomiasis

How to cite this article:
Al Mofarreh MA, Al Akwaa AY, Al Mofleh IA. Gammaglutamyl transpeptidase activity in patients with schistosomiasis. Saudi J Gastroenterol 2003;9:15-9

How to cite this URL:
Al Mofarreh MA, Al Akwaa AY, Al Mofleh IA. Gammaglutamyl transpeptidase activity in patients with schistosomiasis. Saudi J Gastroenterol [serial online] 2003 [cited 2022 Jan 25];9:15-9. Available from:

Schistosomiasis is a widespread disease affecting approximately 200 million individuals all over the world [1],[2] . In Saudi Arabia, multiple endemic foci of Schistosoma mansoni are scattered over the country [3],[4] .

Adult worms may survive up to 20 years in the mesentric venous plexus. Eggs are released into the portal circulation and trapped in the liver resulting in a T Cell-mediated granulomatous reaction that results in the disease syndrome [5] . We repeatedly observed in clinical practice an increase of serum gammaglutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) activity in patients with schistosoma mansoni infestation. While serum GGT elevation is well established in association with alcoholism [6],[7],[8],[9],[10] , we found only one study in the world literature that reported elevation of serum GGT in a group of non-alcoholic patients with schistosomiasis [11] .

The aim of this study was to evaluate the serum GGT activity in a group of non-alcoholic patients with hepatointestinal schistosomiasis in our community.

   Patients and Methods Top

In a period of six years between 1993-1998, 174 patients coming from various endemic areas in Saudi Arabia were diagnosed to have hepatointestinal schistosomiasis at Dr. Al-Mofarreh's Polyclinic. Medical records of these patients were retrospectively analyzed. All patients were asked about history of diabetes mellitus and hyperlipidemia. The body mass index (BMI) was calculated for all patients. The diagnosis of schistosomiasis was based on clinical and laboratory data including stool examination and indirect hemagglutination (IHA) in all patients. IHA titers of > 1:16 were considered positives. Direct stool smear and formol-ether concentration methods were used to screen for schistosoma mansoni ova. In addition, abdominal ultrasonography (US), upper and lower gastrointestinal endoscopy with rectal biopsies were performed when it was feasible by the same gastroenterologist using pentax EPM-300 vedio scope system. Gammaglutamyl transpeptidase was determined in all patients using biomerieux, France reference values (male 9-37, females 11- 43 unit/L). Patients with recent drug intake, urinary schistosomiasis, or those found to have other reasons for hepatobiliary disorders were not included in the study. Patients were divided into two groups: Group 1 (n = 57) with elevated GGT, and Group 2 (n =117) with normal GGT. Both groups had positive IHA titers. The serum levels of albumin and globulins were tested in 38 and 37 patients in group 1 and group 2 respectively. The laboratory data, abdominal ultrasonography and endoscopy results for both groups were analyzed and 2 x 2 cross-table test was used for statistical analysis. P values <0.05 were considered significant. Liver Biopsy was not performed on outpatients basis in our clinic, and when it was strongly indicated, patients were referred to a hospital.

   Results Top

All patients were adults with male to female ratio of 3.8:1. The median age was 46. 5 years (range 30­80) for group I and 43.2 (20-74) for group 2. BMI ditribution was similar in both groups [Table - 1]. The laboratory data depicted in [Table - 2] shows statistically significant differences between the two groups in regards to ALT, ALP and platelets (p <0.001) as well as globulins and albumin (p <0.01). Only a small proportion of patients had elevated fasting serum glucose (7% and 3%) and cholesterol (7% and 8%) for group 1 and 2 respectivly. Ultrasonographic features summarized in [Table - 3] show more pathological features of fibrosis and cirrhosis in groupl compared to group 2 (p <0.001). Around 50% of patients had fatty liver in either groups. The number of patients with positive ova in stool was 37% in group 1 compared to 45% in group 2 (p = 0.25) as shown in [Table - 4]. On upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, esophageal varices were more frequently encountered in group 1 (10/22) compared to (6/49) patients in group 2 (p<0.001).

   Discussion Top

Gammaglutamyl transpeptidase is a membrane-­bound enzyme which is involved in the metabolic transport [12],[13] . Among others, it is a useful parameter for intrahepatic cholestasis and disorders of hepatobiliary system [14],[15],[16],[17],[18],[19],[20],[21] . It has also been utilized to monitor the status of ethanol consumption [6],[7],[8],[9],[10] . In addition raised levels have been reported in primary biliary cirrhosis with regression after treatment [22],[23] . Furthermore, besides 5-nucleotidase and alkaline phosphatase, GGT has been a sensitive parameter for monitoring intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy [24] .

There is a paucity of information about GGT in individuals with schistosomiasis in the world literature. Martins and Borges suggested that elevation of GGT is correlated with a hepatobiliary alteration induced by schistosomiasis in non alcoholic patient [11] . All patients included in the current study were Muslims, non alcoholics and their BMI was equally distributed. Cholestasis parameters such as ALP, and GGT were higher in Group 1 (p <0.001), which indicates that this group is likely to have more biliary alteration. In addition, other investigations including ALT, albumin, globulins, platelets, abdominal ultrasonography and upper gastrointestinal endoscopy showed more pathological changes in Group I (p <0.001) suggesting that GGT is a probable indicator for advancement of liver involvement in hepatointestinal schistosomiasis. Although statistically not significant, the decreased proportion of positive ova in the stool in group I might indicate chronicity of the disease in this group with a reduced parasite burden. Since there is no difference between both groups in the BMI and the presence of DM and hypercholestolemia we believe that these factors might have not caused significant difference on GGT serum level in the studied population.

The current data suggest that GGT elevation in the presence of elevated IHA for schistosoma in our non-alcoholic population with hepatointestinal schistosomiasis is most likely related to hepatobiliary involvement and chronicity of the disease. Therefore, schistosorniasis should be considered whenever GGT is elevated in a population of endemic area. Further studies, especially in correlation with morphological findings are warranted.

   Acknowledgment Top

The authors wish to thank Prof. Dr. Klaus-Peter Maier; Director of Gastroenterology Department, at University of Tuebingen, Esslingen, Germany for reviewing the manuscript and his valuable suggestions. And would like to thank Mr. Amir S. Marzouk, from CMRC, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for his statistical assistance.

   References Top

1.Mott KE. Schistosomiasis-new goals. WHO Magazine 1984.  Back to cited text no. 1    
2.Thoeodore EN. Schistosomiasis: In Isselbacher (Eds), Harrisons Principles of Internal Medicines. Fauci et al. 14` h edition volume 1. International edition 1998; 1: 1217-22.  Back to cited text no. 2    
3.Sebaie A Z. Schistosomiasis in Saudi Arabia. Annals of Saudi Med 1998; 8: 169-74.  Back to cited text no. 3    
4.Ahmed SA, El-Zaher F, Oni G N, Osoba AO. Intestinal parasitic infestation in Saudi and non Saudi in the Armed Forces Hospital. Saudi Med J 1994; 16: 242-7.  Back to cited text no. 4    
5.Esterre P, Peccarrere JL, Serieye J, Ravolimalala VA, Roux J. History of a hepatic lesion: Schistosoma mansoni bilhariazis. Arch Inst Pasteur Madagascar 1994; 61: 31-6.  Back to cited text no. 5    
6.Tominaga T, Zuzuki H, Minzuno H et al. Clinical significance of measuring plasma concentration of glutamine and glutamata in alcoholic liver disease. Alcohol-Alcohol Suppi. 1993;1: 103-9.  Back to cited text no. 6    
7.Lutz FU, Bausbach S. Liver enzyme values (gamma GT, GOT, GPT) in intoxicated drivers at the time of the offense. Blutalkohol 1992: 29:211-5.  Back to cited text no. 7    
8.Weber P, Dolle W. An isolated elevation of gamma GT. Dtsch Med Wochenschr 1992; 117:317-8.  Back to cited text no. 8    
9.Isichei HV, Ikwuagwu PU. Egbuta JO. A comparative study of alcoholic patients in Jos, Nigeria, and in Castrop-Rauxel, Germany. Alcohol- Alcohol 1994; 29: 75-8.  Back to cited text no. 9    
10.Biesci G, piccinocchi M, Banti S. The use of reduced glutathione in alcoholic hepatopathy. Minvera Med 1991; 82: 753-5.  Back to cited text no. 10    
11.Martins RD, Borges DR. Ethanol challenge in non alcoholic patients with schistosomiasis. J Clin Path 1993; 46: 250-3.  Back to cited text no. 11  [PUBMED]  [FULLTEXT]
12.Sweiry JH, Sastre J, Vina J, Elsasser HP, Mann GE. A role of gamma glutamay 1 transpeptidase and the amino acid transport system XC in cystine transport by a human pancreatic duct cell line. J. Physiol Lond 1995; 15: 167-77.  Back to cited text no. 12    
13.Graber R, Losa GA. Change in the activities of signal transduction and transport membrane enzymes in CEM lymphoplastoid cells by glucocorticoid-induced apoptosis. Ann Cell Pathol 1995; 8:159-75.  Back to cited text no. 13    
14.Lucke B, Klinge O, Otto P. Vitamin A poisoning as a cause of isolated gamma GT increase. Med Klin 1993; 88: 668-9.  Back to cited text no. 14    
15.Jiang CF, Wu CS, Tan SW, Ng KW. Hepatolithiasis, a clinical study. Chung-Hua-l­Hsuen-Tsa-Chin-Taipei 1993; 51: 33-9.  Back to cited text no. 15    
16.Pinto A, Parini P, Novelli V et al. Effect of therapy with bis. Hemisuccinate of ursode oxycholic acid bisodium salt in patients with chronic hepatitis. Minvra Med 1992; 83: 359-61.  Back to cited text no. 16    
17.Regenauer A. Value of laboratory diagnosis of liver function from the insurance medicine viewpoint. Versicherungsmedizin 1992; 1: 204­-11.  Back to cited text no. 17    
18.Yamamoto T, Amuro Y, Matsuda Y, Nakaoka H, Shimomura S. Hada T, Higashino K. Boronate affinity chemotherapy of gammaglutamyltransferase in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Am J Gastroenterol 1991; 86: 495-9.  Back to cited text no. 18    
19.Zhoux. Analysis of follow-up data in 83 cases of primary liver cancer. Chung Hua I Hsueh Tsa Chi Taipei 1991; 71: 210-2. 16.  Back to cited text no. 19    
20.Putzki H, Reichert B. The serum activities of AP, gamma GT, GIDH and GPT after bile duct obstruction and ethionine in rat. Gastroenterology 1990; 50: 50-2.  Back to cited text no. 20    
21.Chobert MN, Bernard O, Bulle F, Lemonnier A, Guellaen G, Alagille D. High hepatic gamma­glutammyltransferase activity with normal serum gamma GT in children with progressive idiopathic cholestasis. J Hepatol 1989; 8: 22-5.  Back to cited text no. 21  [PUBMED]  
22.Grippa G, Cognoni C, Castelli A, et al. Prolonged treatment with ursodeoxycholic acid for primary biliary cirrhosis. Clin Ter 1995; 146:367-72.  Back to cited text no. 22    
23.Chien RN, Sheen IS, Chen TJ. Liaw YF. A clinicopathological study in primary billiary cirrhosis. J Formos Med Assoc 1992; 91: 5117­-21.  Back to cited text no. 23    
24.Chen Y. Changes in hepatobiliary enzymes and its isoenzymes in intrahepatic cholestasis in pregnancy. Chung Hua Fu Chan Ko Tsa Chih 1991; 26: 82-5.  Back to cited text no. 24  [PUBMED]  

Correspondence Address:
Mohammad Abdullah Al Mofarreh
Dr. Al Mofarreh Polyclinic, P.O Box 9789, Riyadh 11423
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 19861805

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  [Table - 1], [Table - 2], [Table - 3], [Table - 4]


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