Gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) is a liver enzyme, which is located on the plasma membranes of most cells and organ tissues, but more commonly in hepatocytes, and is routinely used in clinical practice to help indicate liver injury and as a marker of excessive alcohol consumption. Among the liver enzymes, important advances have especially been made in understanding the physiological functions of GGT. The primary role of GGT is the extracellular catabolism of glutathione, the major thiol antioxidant in mammalian cells, which plays a relevant role in protecting cells against oxidants produced during normal metabolism; GGT, therefore, plays an important role in cellular defence. Beyond its physiological functions, circulating serum GGT has been linked to a remarkable array of chronic conditions and diseases, which include nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, vascular and nonvascular diseases and mortality outcomes. This review summarizes the available epidemiological and genetic evidence for the associations between GGT and these adverse outcomes, the postulated biologic mechanisms underlying these associations, outlines areas of outstanding uncertainty and the implications for clinical practice.
- vascular disease