The isozyme patterns and activities of six enzymes were determined in surgical biopsy samples of lung tumors and nonneoplastic pulmonary areas. Fetal lungs were also examined. No tissue differences were found in the isozyme pattern of hexokinase or alkaline phosphatase; small differences in pyruvate kinase isozyme proportions were observed. The tumors exhibited significant deviations with respect to the lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and malate dehydrogenase (MDH) isozyme patterns. Despite the diversity of cell types, the proportions of the M-subunit of LDH in each tumor and that of the mitochondrial isozyme of MDH in all but one tumor were higher than in control samples from the same lung. In contrast, the normal fetal lung showed a higher LDH-H proportion than did adult lung and a mature MDH isozyme pattern. The α-glycerophosphate dehydrogenase and adenylate kinase activities of the tumors were about one-tenth and one-fourth, respectively, of those of nonneoplastic adult lung. These lower activities (evident also in normal fetal lung) were accompanied by 3- to 5-fold increases in the LDH, MDH, pyruvate kinase, and hexokinase activities of the tumors; fetal lungs had lesser increases (2- to 3-fold) for the first 3 enzymes. The common features of tumors with different cell types and histological grade identified here point to several enzymes the quantitation or isozyme analysis of which may be of practical use in distinguishing cancerous from nonneoplastic human lung samples. A combination of different indicators, such as opposite changes in LDH and α-glycerophosphate dehydrogenase activity, coupled with elevated proportions of LDH-M, may be used to diagnose neoplasia most reliably.

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Supported by National Cancer Institute Contract NO1-CB-84222 and Research Grant CA-25005.

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