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Keywords:

  • metabolism;
  • cancer;
  • central nervous system;
  • glycemia;
  • diabetes

Abstract

For more than a century, the metabolic role of lactate has intrigued physiologists and biochemists. Yet, for the first half of the last century lactate had been designated as a waste product, and assigned no additional significance besides its controversial role in muscle fatigue. The decline of the lactate hypothesis for the onset of muscle fatigue and the defining of some modulatory properties attributed to lactate have increased the interest on this molecule. The present critical review aimed at evaluating some recent publications concerned with unveiling the regulatory actions of lactate in cellular function. Lactate has been described to modulate enzymes catalytic properties to affect hormonal release and responsiveness, and to control body homeostasis. Moreover, these properties are directly related to the genesis and the sustainability of pathological conditions, such as diabetes and cancer. In the end, we concluded that lactate should not be regarded as simply an anaerobic metabolite, but should be considered as a regulatory molecule that modulates the integration of metabolism. © 2008 IUBMB IUBMB Life, 60(9): 605–608, 2008