Lactate has been suggested to interfere with intermediary metabolism by restricting both lipolysis and glucose utilization. To test this hypothesis, in paired studies in healthy volunteers, sodium lactate (25 mumol.min-1 x kg-1) or saline was infused for 1 h in the fasting state and during 2 h of euglycemic (4.75 mM) hyperinsulinemia (approximately 400 pmol/l). Hyperlactatemia (approximately 2 mM) had no inhibitory effect on fasting free fatty acid or glycerol levels nor did it alter the suppressive action of insulin on these substrates. Likewise, sodium lactate infusion did not influence hepatic glucose production ([3-3H]glucose technique) or its suppression by insulin. During the clamp, hyperlactatemia was associated with a small increase in whole body glucose disposal (34.9 +/- 4.1 vs. 30.3 +/- 3.7 mumol.min-1 x kg-1, P < 0.05) with no major change in the pattern of substrate (carbohydrate vs. lipid) oxidation. By simultaneously measuring arteriovenous gradients across the deep tissues of the forearm (forearm technique), it was found that hyperlactatemia did not impede insulin-mediated glucose uptake; furthermore, it could be estimated that muscle tissues were responsible for the disposal of roughly one-fifth of the lactate load. Whole body energy expenditure was stimulated above the level achieved with hyperinsulinemia when lactate was also infused. Thus, under the present experimental conditions, physiological hyperlactatemia did not interfere with lipolysis, hepatic glucose production, or whole body or forearm muscle glucose utilization, or with insulin action on these processes, and was accompanied by a strong thermogenic effect.
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