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5’-Nucleotidase Blood Test

Last updated May 31, 2018

Approved by: Maulik P. Purohit MD, MPH

The 5’-Nucleotidase Blood Test detects 5’-NT in blood. It aids in the diagnosis of liver disease and hepatobiliary tract obstruction or blockage.

What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • 5’-NT Levels Blood Test
  • CD73 Levels Blood Test
  • Ecto-5’-Nucleotidase Levels Blood Test

What is 5’-Nucleotidase Blood Test? (Background Information)

  • 5’-Nucleotidase (5’-NT) is an enzyme found in the liver. It is attached to the membranes of the liver cells
  • The function of 5’-NT is to create the molecule adenosine. Adenosine is important for numerous biological functions, including energy production and signaling
  • 5’-NT creates adenosine from adenosine monophosphate (AMP). AMP is a byproduct of energy metabolism
  • 5’-NT appears in blood when the liver is experiencing problems. Normal 5’-NT levels in the liver also rise
  • The main cause for this rise in 5’-NT levels is blockage of the passageways connecting the liver, duodenum, and gallbladder. This is known as the hepatobiliary tract
  • The 5’-Nucleotidase Blood Test detects 5’-NT in blood. It aids in the diagnosis of liver disease and hepatobiliary tract obstruction or blockage

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the 5’-Nucleotidase Blood Test?

Following are the clinical indications for performing the 5’-Nucleotidase Blood Test:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)

How is the Specimen Collected for 5’-Nucleotidase Blood Test?

Following is the specimen collection process for 5’-Nucleotidase Blood Test:

Sample required: Blood

Process of obtaining blood sample in adults:

  • A band is wrapped around the arm, 3-4 inches above the collection site (superficial vein that lies within the elbow pit)
  • The site is cleaned with 70% alcohol in an outward spiral, away from the zone of needle insertion
  • The needle cap is removed and is held in line with the vein, pulling the skin tight
  • With a small and quick thrust, the vein is penetrated using the needle
  • The required amount of blood sample is collected by pulling the plunger of the syringe out slowly
  • The wrap band is removed, gauze is placed on the collection site, and the needle is removed
  • The blood is immediately transferred into the blood container, which has the appropriate preservative/clot activator/anti-coagulant
  • The syringe and the needle are disposed into the appropriate “sharp container” for safe and hygienic disposal

Preparation required: No special preparation is needed prior to the test.

What is the Significance of the 5’-Nucleotidase Blood Test Result?

An elevated 5’-Nucleotidase Blood Test value may indicate:

  • Cholestatic liver disease
  • Secondary tumors and lymphoma of the liver
  • Early biliary cirrhosis
  • Inflammatory arthritis

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

  • Pregnancy can interfere with the results of the 5’-Nucleotidase Blood Test
  • The test is often performed for similar purposes as the alkaline phosphatase (ALP) and gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) tests

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider of the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

The following DoveMed website links are some useful resources for additional information:



Please visit our Laboratory Procedures Center for more physician-approved health information:


References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Oct. 30, 2015
Last updated: May 31, 2018