Chemistry, toxicology & urinalysis

Organ specific


lactate dehydrogenase

Last author update: 1 December 2010
Last staff update: 27 June 2020

Copyright: 2002-2023,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Lactate dehydrogenase [title]

Larry Bernstein, M.D.
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Page views in 2023 to date: 61
Cite this page: Bernstein L. lactate dehydrogenase. website. Accessed February 7th, 2023.
Definition / general
  • LDH measures the amount of serum lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), which is released into the circulation after tissue damage
  • Causes of tissue damage include acute myocardial infarction (AMI), hepatitis and acute renal failure
  • LDH is elevated on the second day after AMI, and remains elevated for up to 4 days
  • LD1 is usually measured
  • LDH is an enzyme (EC ubiquitous in tissue (Wikipedia - Lactate dehydrogenase)
  • It has five isoenzymes, each with a different composition of M-type and H-type subunits in a tetrameric structure
  • The M-type isoenzyme is predominant in liver and skeletal muscle
  • The H-type isoenzyme is predominant in heart and renal cortex
  • LDH catalyzes the conversion of pyruvate to lactate in the glycolytic pathway
Diagrams / tables

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Pyruvate to Lactate conversion

  • The measurement of the enzyme uses the reduction of the coenzyme NAD to NADH with increasing optical density and oxidation of lactic acid to pyruvate
  • Alternatively, one can follow the reverse reaction of pyruvate to lactate and NADH to NAD at 340 nm

  • Patients presenting 12+ hours after the onset of chest pain
    • High levels are suggestive of acute myocardial infarction
  • Staging (S classification) patients with nonseminomatous testicular cancer
  • Evaluating patients with metastatic cancer
  • Assessing nature of pleural / pericardial fluids: ratio of fluid LDH to upper limit of normal serum LDH of more than 0.6 suggests an inflammatory process (exudate)

  • Elevated in hemolyzed specimens, since enzyme is present in erythrocytes

Reference ranges
  • A typical range is 105 - 333 IU/L
  • Must interpret values in context of patient clinical findings
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