The AST/ALT (De-Ritis) ratio: A novel marker for critical limb ischemia in peripheral arterial occlusive disease patients

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The aspartat aminotransferase (AST)/alanin aminotransferase (ALT) (De-Ritis) ratio (AAR) is an easily applicable blood test. An elevated AAR on the one hand has been associated with an increase in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). NAFLD on the other hand is associated with an increase in cardiovascular disease, all-cause mortality, and diabetes. As the AAR is also elevated in case of muscular damage, we investigated AAR and its association with critical limb ischemia (CLI) in peripheral arterial occlusive disease (PAOD) patients.

In our cross-sectional study, we included 1782 PAOD patients treated at our institution from 2005 to 2010. Patients with chronic alcohol consumption (>20 g/day) were excluded. AAR was calculated and the cohort was categorized into tertiles according to the AAR. An optimal cut-off value for the continuous AAR was calculated by applying a receiver operating curve analysis to discriminate between CLI and non-CLI.

In our cohort, occurrence of CLI significantly increased with an elevation in AAR. As an optimal cut-off value, an AAR of 1.67 (sensitivity 34.1%, specificity 81.0%) was identified. Two groups were categorized, 1st group containing 1385 patients (AAR < 1.67) and a 2nd group with 397 patients (AAR > 1.67). CLI was more frequent in AAR > 1.67 patients (166 [41.9%]) compared to AAR < 1.67 patients (329 [23.8%]) (P < 0.001), as was prior myocardial infarction (28 [7.1%] vs 54 [3.9%], P = 0.01). Regarding inflammatory parameters, C-reactive protein (median 8.1 mg/L [2.9–28.23] vs median 4.3 mg/L [2.0–11.5]) and fibrinogen (median 427.5 mg/dL [344.25–530.0] vs 388.0 mg/dL [327.0–493.0]) also significantly differed in the 2 patient groups (both P < 0.001). Finally, an AAR > 1.67 was associated with an odds ratio (OR) of 2.0 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.7–2.3) for CLI even after adjustment for other well-established vascular risk factors.

An increased AAR is significantly associated with patients at high risk for CLI and other cardiovascular endpoints. The AAR is a broadly available and cheap marker, which might be useful to highlight patients at high risk for vascular endpoints.

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