In order to detect possible differences in the energy metabolism between normal and neoplastic lymphoid cells, we studied purified normal human lymphocytes (FL) and transformed lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from umbilical cord blood (CL) and compared them to cell lines derived from American Burkitt's lymphoma (BL). The total adenosine triphosphate production rate by these cells was estimated by measuring O2 consumption and lactic acid production rates. O2 consumption (nmol/min/mg protein) was 4.9 ± 0.3 (S.D.) in CL, 4.4 ± 0.3 in FL, and 4.9 ± 0.3 in BL. Lactic acid production (nmol/min/mg protein) was 30.9 ± 3.0 in CL, 29.9 ± 3.0 in FL, and 23.4 ± 4.0 in BL. Using these values of O2 consumption and lactic acid production, the average adenosine triphosphate production rates (nmol/min/mg protein) were calculated to be 60 in CL, 56 in FL, and 53 in BL. We conclude that the BL do not have more aerobic glycolysis than do normal lymphoid cells, suggesting that the lactic acidosis seen in American Burkitt's lymphoma is not due to a preferential glycolytic metabolism of the tumor. More likely, the lactic acidosis is simply due to the large total mass of these neoplastic cells and not due to a modification of their energy metabolism.

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