Lactate Metabolism: Historical Context, Prior Misinterpretations, And Current Understanding

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Dr.. Matthew Rogatzki, Assistant Professor (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
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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 irrespec- tive 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 dur- ing 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.

Additional Information

Ferguson, B. S., et al. (2018). "Lactate metabolism: historical context, prior misinterpretations, and current understanding." European Journal of Applied Physiology 118(4): 691-728. Publisher version of record available at:
Language: English
Date: 2018
Lactate metabolism, Lactate shuttle, Hypoxia, Glycolysis, Cancer metabolism, Astrocyte–neuron lactate shuttle, Lactate threshold, Mitochondria, Fatigue and lactic acidosis, Cytosolic redox

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