Lactate kinetics in human tissues at rest and during exercise


Lactate production in skeletal muscle has now been studied for nearly two centuries and still its production and functional role at rest and during exercise is much debated. In the early days skeletal muscle was mainly seen as the site of lactate production during contraction and lactate production associated with a lack of muscle oxygenation and fatigue. Later it was recognized that skeletal muscle not only played an important role in lactate production but also in lactate clearance and this led to a renewed interest, not the least from the Copenhagen School in the 1930s, in the metabolic role of lactate in skeletal muscle. With the introduction of lactate isotopes muscle lactate kinetics and oxidation could be studied and a simultaneous lactate uptake and release was observed, not only in muscle but also in other tissues. Therefore, this review will discuss in vivo human: (1) skeletal muscle lactate metabolism at rest and during exercise and suggestions are put forward to explain the simultaneous lactate uptake and release; and (2) lactate metabolism in the heart, liver, kidneys, brain, adipose tissue and lungs will be discussed and its potential importance in these tissues.

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa physiologica (Oxford, England)
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)499-508
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Adipose Tissue/metabolism
  • Brain/metabolism
  • Exercise/physiology
  • Humans
  • Kidney/metabolism
  • Lactic Acid/metabolism
  • Liver/metabolism
  • Muscle Contraction/physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal/metabolism
  • Myocardium/metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Rest/physiology
  • Tissue Distribution


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