Lactic Acid: No Longer an Inert and End-Product of Glycolysis

Physiology (Bethesda). 2017 Nov;32(6):453-463. doi: 10.1152/physiol.00016.2017.


For decades, lactic acid has been considered a dead-end product of glycolysis. Research in the last 20+ years has shown otherwise. Through its transporters (MCTs) and receptor (GPR81), lactic acid plays a key role in multiple cellular processes, including energy regulation, immune tolerance, memory formation, wound healing, ischemic tissue injury, and cancer growth and metastasis. We summarize key findings of lactic acid signaling, functions, and many remaining questions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glycolysis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism*
  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters / metabolism
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Monocarboxylic Acid Transporters
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Lactic Acid