Liver Function Tests: Lactate Dehydrogenase

As I mentioned in my previous post on " Liver Function Tests: An Overview", here I will discuss how the results of Lactate Dehydrogenase testing can be used to evaluate liver (dys)function. Some details may not be mentioned; more detailed posts will be coming soon.

The basics of Lactate Dehydrogenase

  • LDH is widely distributed throughout body; NOT at all specific to liver!

  • Electrophoresis separates it into 5 diff isoenzymes (see separate post for full details)

  • Elevated LD4 & LD5 suggest liver damage (or skeletal muscle injury)

  • Testing for LD4/LD5 is NOT routinely done in clinical practice as there are much better tests/indicators of liver function/damage

Elevated LD activity

Total LD activity is a commonly performed test (not specifically done for liver). I like to think of LDH elevations being a sign of some anaerobic process occurring. Thus, elevations can be seen in any disease where there is a problem getting oxygen to the tissue-. Some examples include:

  • Problems in the blood: Hemolysis, Megaloblastic anemia

  • Problems in the tissue: Muscle, Liver, Kidney, Lung disorders

  • Neoplasms "hogging" or "destroying" the natural order- Leukemias/Lymphomas, Some Carcinomas

As always, a disclaimer that this is NOT medical advice... consult your physician, medical literature etc before making any assumptions from this article

Reference: Daniel D. Mais, MD. "Practical Clinical Pathology". pg 1. Amer Soc for Clin Path. 2014.


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These posts contain high yield information collected from various educational resources including textbooks, journal articles, educational websites and more. They are intended for educational use only and should NOT be taken as medical advice. I strongly believe the spreading of knowledge and depth of learned information should be encouraged in today's society rather than coveted. Membership is required to view these posts  and should be used solely for educational purposes only.