Lactic dehydrogenase, alkaline phosphatase and a magnesium-independent adenosine triphosphatase were assayed in normal, diarrhoeal and cholera stools. The diarrhoeas, examined bacteriologically, included bacillary dysentery, salmonellosis, amoebiasis and non-specific gastro-enteritis.

Alkaline phosphatase levels were found to be similar in normal and cholera stools, whereas lactic dehydrogenase was 30-fold higher and adenosine triphosphatase four-fold higher in cholera. The distribution of activity of lactic dehydrogenase was higher, and of the phosphatases lower in cholera than in the stools of bacterial infections showing evidence of tissue necrosis. The levels of activity of all three enzymes in cholera stool were found to reach a maximum between 9 and 17 hr after onset of purging.

It is suggested that these findings indicate an increased permeability of the intestinal epithelium in cholera, leading to a leak of cell enzymes into the intestinal lumen.


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