The activities of ornithine decarboxylase and of S-adenosyl-L-methionine decarboxylase in human normal epidermis, in basal cell epitheliomas, and in squamous cell carcinomas of human skin have been compared. All 3 types of tissues have characteristic levels of each of these enzymes. The normal epidermis had the lowest levels of both ornithine decarboxylase and S-adenosyl-L-methionine decarboxylase activities. The levels of the polyamine biosynthetic decarboxylases in basal cell epitheliomas were significantly higher than those of normal epidermis, but at the same time significantly lower than those present in squamous cell carcinomas. These results support the conclusion that in epithelial malignant tumors of human skin the extent of the increase in the activities of polyamine biosynthetic decarboxylases is well correlated with the neoplasm's growth rate, which is faster in the squamous cell carcinomas than in the basal cell epitheliomas.
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