Kinetic analysis of the human blood-brain barrier transport of lactate and its influence by hypercapnia

J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1991 Jul;11(4):581-6. doi: 10.1038/jcbfm.1991.107.


Blood-brain barrier permeability to L-lactate was studied in 18 patients with the double indicator technique. Venous outflow curves were obtained during normo- and hypercapnia and were analyzed by means of a model that takes tracer backflux and capillary heterogeneity of transit times into account. The average unidirectional extraction of L-lactate was 15%; the transport from the blood to the brain (PS1) was 0.081 ml g-1 min-1 and the transport from the brain to the blood (PS2) was on the same order of magnitude. In hypercapnia, arterial pH decreased from 7.39 to 7.26 and PS1 to L-lactate increased significantly by 110%. PS2 also increased although a statistically significant difference compared to the resting state was not reached. It is concluded that L-lactate is easily taken up by the human brain, and that the mechanism by which it crosses the blood-brain barrier is equilibrative. Furthermore, the brain permeability to lactate is enhanced by hypercapnia and the mechanism is believed to act through the decrease in pH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood-Brain Barrier*
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cell Membrane Permeability
  • Humans
  • Hypercapnia / metabolism*
  • Kinetics
  • Lactates / blood
  • Lactates / metabolism*
  • Lactic Acid
  • Middle Aged
  • Surface Properties


  • Lactates
  • Lactic Acid