In animals temporary anaerobic respiration leads to the breakdown of the pyruvate formed by glycolysis into lactate. The buildup of lactate in the bloodstream is accompanied by a large number of protons causing lactic acidosis, which is detrimental to the health of the organism. This is one of the main suggestions I have come across for why a lack of oxygen is fatal to cells, however the LD50 for lactic acid as referenced by the COSHH MSDS seem awfully high (even if the route is by ingestion rather than directly into the bloodstream) for this to be a cause of cell death:
Toxicological Data on Ingredients: ORAL (LD50): Acute:
3543 mg/kg [Rat (Lactic Acid (CAS no. 50-21-5))].
4875 mg/kg [Mouse (Lactic Acid (CAS no. 50-21-5))].
I also wonder if this is a larger problem for an organism as a whole rather than on a cellular level.
The alternative, I suppose, is that glycolysis alone does not provide sufficient ATP for vital cellular processes to occur. If this is the case, which ATP requiring processes are most vital for the short term survival for a cell?