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Lactate transporters (MCT proteins) in heart and skeletal muscles


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: April 2000 - Volume 32 - Issue 4 - p 778-789
Basic Sciences: Original Investigations: Symposium: The Role Of Skeletal Muscles In Lactate Exchange During Exercise

BONEN, A. Lactate transporters (MCT proteins) in heart and skeletal muscles. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 778–789, 2000. Lactate traverses the cell membranes of many tissues, including the heart and skeletal muscle via a facilitated monocarboxylate transport system that functions as a proton symport and is stereoselective for L-lactate. In the past few years, seven monocarboxylate transporters have been cloned. Monocarboxylate transporters are ubiquitously distributed among many tissues, and the transcripts of several monocarboxylate transporters are present within many of the same tissues. This complicates the identification of their metabolic function. There is also evidence that that there is some species specificity, with differences in MCT tissue distributions in hamsters, rats, and humans. MCT1 and MCT3-M/MCT4 are present in rat and human muscles, and MCT1 expression is highly correlated with the oxidative capacity of skeletal muscles and with their capacity to take up lactate from the circulation. MCT1 is also present in heart and is located on the plasma membrane (in subdomains), T-tubules, and in caveolae. With training, MCT1 is increased in rat and human muscle, and in rat hearts, resulting in an increased uptake of lactate from the buffers perfused through these tissues and an increase in lactate efflux out of purified vesicles. In humans, the training-induced increases in MCT1 are associated with an increased lactate efflux out of muscle. MCT3-M/MCT4 is not correlated with the muscles’ oxidative capacities but is equally abundant in Type IIa and IIb muscles, whereas it is markedly lower in slow-twitch (Type I) muscles. Clearly, we are at the threshold of a new era in understanding the regulation of lactate movement into and out of skeletal muscle and cardiac cells.

Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario N2 L 3G1, CANADA

Submitted for publication December 1998.

Accepted for publication December 1998.

Address for correspondence: A. Bonen, Department of Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario N2 L 3G1, Canada. E-mail:

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.