Lactate Production Under Fully Aerobic Conditions: The Lactate Shuttle During Rest and Exercise

Fed Proc. 1986 Dec;45(13):2924-9.


O2 insufficiency and other factors increase the rate of lactate production. Significant quantities of lactate are produced under postabsorptive as well as postprandial conditions in resting individuals. In humans during postabsorptive rest, 25-50% of the total carbohydrate combusted appears to pass through the lactate pool. During sustained submaximal (in terms of VO2max) exercise, the rates of lactate production (Ri) and oxidation (Rox) are greatly elevated as compared to rest. However, lactate production and oxidation increase relatively less than O2 consumption during moderate-intensity exercise. Because the lactate production index (RiI = Ri/VO2) decreases during submaximal, moderate-intensity exercise compared to rest, it is concluded that skeletal muscle and other sites of lactate production are effectively oxygenated. Alterations in the levels of circulating catecholamines can affect levels and turnover rates of glucose and lactate. In pure red dog gracilis muscle in situ and in the healthy and myocardium in vivo, contraction results in glycolysis and lactate production. This production of lactate occurs despite an apparent abundance of O2. Similarly, glucose catabolism in the human brain results in lactate production. The formation of lactate under fully aerobic conditions of rest and exercise represents an important mechanism by which different tissues share a carbon source (lactate) for oxidation and other processes such as gluconeogenesis. This mechanism has been termed the lactate shuttle.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aerobiosis
  • Animals
  • Catecholamines / physiology
  • Food
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lactates / metabolism*
  • Lactic Acid
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Muscles / metabolism
  • Physical Exertion*


  • Catecholamines
  • Lactates
  • Lactic Acid
  • Glycogen
  • Glucose