Lactate dehydrogenase (LD) is an enzyme that is found in almost all of the body's cells, but only a small amount of it is usually detectable in the blood. LD is released from the cells into the bloodstream when cells are damaged or destroyed. Because of this, the LD test can be used as a general marker of injury to cells.
Although there is some overlap, each of the five LD isoenzymes tends to be concentrated in specific body tissues. In general, the isoenzyme locations are as follows:
• LD1: Heart, red blood cells, kidney
• LD2: Heart, red blood cells, kidney (lesser amounts than LD1)
• LD3: Lungs and other tissues
• LD4: White blood cells, lymph nodes, muscle, liver (lesser amounts than LD5)
• LD5: Liver, skeletal muscle
Changes of LD isoenzymes periodically measured following onset of chest pain, studying the relationships of the anodic fractions, provide important information for the differential diagnosis of acute infarct of myocardium. The differential diagnosis of certain other diseases is enhanced as well with the use of LD isoenzymes.
Useful in the differential diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction, megaloblastic anemia (folate deficiency, pernicious anemia), hemolytic anemia, and very occasionally renal infarct. These entities are characterized by LD1 increases, often with LD1:LD2 inversion.
The isomorphic pattern (total LD significantly high with no increase in percentage, of any fraction) is seen with neoplasia, cardiorespiratory diseases, hypothyroidism, infectious mononucleosis, and other inflammatory states, uremia, and necrosis.
LD5 increases are seen with striated muscle lesions (eg, trauma) and with liver diseases (eg, hepatic congestion, congestive heart failure, hepatitis, cirrhosis, alcoholism). LD5 increase is probably more significant when the LD5:LD4 ratio is increased.
Although a modicum of controversy exists regarding the most suitable criteria for LD isoenzymes for the diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction, almost all laboratories recognize abnormality when LD1 equals or is greater than LD2. Alternatives to LD1 greater than LD2 have been proposed. Using an electrophoretic method (Helena), Rotenberg et al suggested the criterion of LD1 >90 units/L. A 1988 study examines application of LD1:LD4 and other ratios and finds that the LD1:LD4 ratio optimizes earlier and is the most powerful diagnostic ratio for acute myocardial infarction.
A few percent of normal individuals may have LD1:LD2 ratios as high as 0.81. A ratio of 0.82−0.99 is suspicious of myocardial injury. A ratio >1.0 is diagnostic of myocardial injury, if other clinical criteria are met. In unstable angina, an increase of the LD1:LD2 ratio is described with normal total LD;3 however, progressively increasing LD1:LD2 ratio without complete inversion may have diagnostic significance for acute myocardial infarct.
Persistent LD1:LD2 flip following acute myocardial infarct may represent a marker for reinfarction. Especially when acute myocardial infarction is complicated by shock, the isomorphic pattern may be found.6 LD1:LD2 inversion commonly appears subsequent to the isomorphic pattern in instances of acute myocardial infarction.
The appearance of an LD “flip” (when LD1 is greater than LD2) is extremely helpful in diagnosis of MI. The presence of a LD “flip” a day following or with the detection of CK-MB is essentially diagnostic of MI, if baseline cardiac enzymes/isoenzymes are normal and if rises and falls are as anticipated for the diagnosis of acute MI. While CK-MB peaks 12 to 24 hours after onset of infarction, LD isoenzymes usually become diagnostic at about 36 to 55 hours after onset and return to normal between 3 and 14 days after onset.