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Extracellular lactate tends to inhibit cellular growth or enhance cell death. This happens in the vicinity of tumors and in cell cultures.

See for example this reference: Ozturk, Sadettin S., Mark R. Riley, and Bernhard O. Palsson. "Effects of ammonia and lactate on hybridoma growth, metabolism, and antibody production." Biotechnology and bioengineering 39.4 (1992): 418-431 (available here: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Mark_Riley5/publication/227705703_Effects_of_ammonia_and_lactate_on_growth_metabolism_and_antibody_production/links/540e0bcb0cf2f2b29a3a765a.pdf)

What is the mechanism behind this effect of lactate? Why lactate has these negative effects?

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you thinking of effects of lactic acidosis rather than lactate? Note that lactate itself is a base, not an acid. The effects of lactate on cancer cells and tumors is still heavily discussed, can you give some references for your claim? Can you specify what types of tumors or cancer cells you are thinking of? $\endgroup$ – Roland Feb 12 '16 at 7:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Roland Almost all tumor types exhibit lactate secretion (this is called the Warburg effect). I think the cell secretes lactic acid, which once outside the cell, equilibrates with lactate, as any acid/base pair. $\endgroup$ – becko Feb 12 '16 at 7:09
  • $\begingroup$ Most tumors do secrete lactate, but I'm not aware of any evidence that lactate itself inhibits cellular growth, as you stated in your question. So please provide references for this; or, if you actually mean effects of acidosis (low pH), then please revise and clarify. Glycolytic cells do not actually produce lactic acid; anaerobic metabolism is acidifying because of proton imbalance due to inadequate respiration. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactic_acidosis $\endgroup$ – Roland Feb 12 '16 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Roland Take this example: Ozturk, Sadettin S., Mark R. Riley, and Bernhard O. Palsson. "Effects of ammonia and lactate on hybridoma growth, metabolism, and antibody production." Biotechnology and bioengineering 39.4 (1992): 418-431. Available here: researchgate.net/profile/Mark_Riley5/publication/… $\endgroup$ – becko Feb 12 '16 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ They report growth inhibition as well as death rate enhancement when extracellular lactate concentrations go up. There many papers with similar statements. My question is what is the mechanism behind this. I've heard that lactate secretion ends up lowering pH, which seems related to what you're saying, and maybe this is a mechanism, but I can't confirm this. $\endgroup$ – becko Feb 12 '16 at 16:21

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