Lactic acid fermentation

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Overview

Lactic acid fermentation is a form of anaerobic respiration that occurs in some bacteria and animal cells in the absence of oxygen. Glycolysis occurs normally, producing 2 molecules of ATP, 2 molecules of NADH and 2 molecules of pyruvate, but the pyruvate is not metabolized to CO2 as in the citric acid cycle The citric acid cycle is also known as the Krebs Cycle. Furthermore, the electron transport chain (which uses O2) does not function. If the ATP needs of a cell outpace oxygen supply (such as during strenuous exercise), cells must supplement with fermentation for the extra ATP production. Although it is a dead-end, the conversion of pyruvate to lactate regenerates NAD+, which allows glycolysis to continue in the muscle cell. Lactate diffuses out of the cell and into the blood.The lactate in the bloodstream is converted back into pyruvate in the liver, for use when oxygen is once again present.

Certain cells, such as cardiac muscle cells, are highly permeable to lactate. Lactate is converted into pyruvate and metabolised normally (ie: via the citric acid cycle). Since these cells are highly oxygenated, it is unlikely that lactate would accumulate (as is the case in oxygen-starved muscle cells). This also allows circulating glucose to be available to muscle cells.

Any excess lactate is taken up by the liver, converted to pyruvate and then to glucose. This, along with the production of lactate from glucose in muscle cells constitutes the Cori cycle.

Phosphofructokinase (PFK) is inhibited by a low pH and this prevents the formation of excess lactate and/or lactic acidosis (sudden drop in blood pH). PFK catalyses an irreversible step in glycolysis.

Muscle cramps have been associated with levels of lactic acid in the blood, especially as a result of electrolyte imbalance caused by sweating.

de:Milchsäuregärung it:Fermentazione lattica fi:Hapattaminen



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