Distribution of monocarboxylate transporters MCT1-MCT8 in rat tissues and human skeletal muscle

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2006 Feb;31(1):31-9. doi: 10.1139/h05-002.


In the past decade, a family of monocarboxylate transporters (MCTs) have been identified that can potentially transport lactate, pyruvate, ketone bodies, and branched-chain ketoacids. Currently, 14 such MCTs are known. However, many orphan transporters exist that have transport capacities that remain to be determined. In addition, the tissue distribution of many of these MCTs is not well defined. Such a cataloging can, at times, begin to suggest the metabolic role of a particular MCT. Recently, a number of antibodies against selected MCTs (MCT1, -2, -4, and -5 to -8) have become commercially available. Therefore, we examined the protein expression of these MCTs in a large number of rat tissues (heart, skeletal muscle, skin, brain, testes, vas deferens, adipose tissue, liver, kidney, spleen, and pancreas), as well as in human skeletal muscle. Unexpectedly, many tissues coexpressed 4-5 MCTs. In particular, in rat skeletal muscle MCT1, MCT2, MCT4, MCT5, and MCT6 were observed. In human muscle, these same MCTs were present. We also observed a pronounced MCT7 signal in human muscle, whereas a very faint signal occurred for MCT8. In rat heart, which is an important metabolic sink for lactate, we confirmed that MCT1 and -2 were expressed. In addition, MCT6 and -8 were also prominently expressed in this tissue, although it is known that MCT8 does not transport aromatic amino acids or lactate. This catalog of MCTs in skeletal muscle and other tissues has revealed an unexpected complexity of coexpression, which makes it difficult to associate changes in monocarboxylate transport with the expression of a particular MCT. The differences in transport kinetics for lactate and pyruvate are only known for MCT1, -2 and -4. Transport kinetics remain to be established for many other MCTs. In conclusion, this study suggests that in skeletal muscle, as well as other tissues, lactate and pyruvate transport rates may not only involve MCT1 and -4, as other monocarboxylate transporters are also expressed in rat (MCT2, -5, -6) and human skeletal muscle (MCT2, -5, -6, -7).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters / biosynthesis*
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters