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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2018 Apr;118(4):691-728. doi: 10.1007/s00421-017-3795-6. Epub 2018 Jan 10.

Lactate metabolism: historical context, prior misinterpretations, and current understanding.

Author information

1
College of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA.
2
Department of Health and Exercise Science, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, USA.
3
Department of Orthopaedics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
4
Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.
5
Department of Human Kinetics, St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Canada.
6
School of Kinesiology, Auburn University, 301 Wire Road, Auburn, AL, 36849, USA.
7
School of Kinesiology, Auburn University, 301 Wire Road, Auburn, AL, 36849, USA. gladdlb@auburn.edu.

Abstract

Lactate (La-) has long been at the center of controversy in research, clinical, and athletic settings. Since its discovery in 1780, La- has often been erroneously viewed as simply a hypoxic waste product with multiple deleterious effects. Not until the 1980s, with the introduction of the cell-to-cell lactate shuttle did a paradigm shift in our understanding of the role of La- in metabolism begin. The evidence for La- as a major player in the coordination of whole-body metabolism has since grown rapidly. La- is a readily combusted fuel that is shuttled throughout the body, and it is a potent signal for angiogenesis irrespective of oxygen tension. Despite this, many fundamental discoveries about La- are still working their way into mainstream research, clinical care, and practice. The purpose of this review is to synthesize current understanding of La- metabolism via an appraisal of its robust experimental history, particularly in exercise physiology. That La- production increases during dysoxia is beyond debate, but this condition is the exception rather than the rule. Fluctuations in blood [La-] in health and disease are not typically due to low oxygen tension, a principle first demonstrated with exercise and now understood to varying degrees across disciplines. From its role in coordinating whole-body metabolism as a fuel to its role as a signaling molecule in tumors, the study of La- metabolism continues to expand and holds potential for multiple clinical applications. This review highlights La-'s central role in metabolism and amplifies our understanding of past research.

KEYWORDS:

Astrocyte–neuron lactate shuttle; Cancer metabolism; Cytosolic redox; Fatigue and lactic acidosis; Glycolysis; Hypoxia; Lactate metabolism; Lactate shuttle; Lactate threshold; Mitochondria

PMID:
29322250
DOI:
10.1007/s00421-017-3795-6
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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