We have evaluated lactate and pyruvate kinetics in whole blood or plasma by the addition of [1-13C]lactate (n = 5) or [1-13C]pyruvate (n = 5) and application of compartmental modeling to the resulting data. Pyruvate and lactate concentrations and tracer-to-tracee ratios were measured at frequent intervals for 45 min. Pyruvate and lactate tracer-to-tracee ratios equilibrated almost completely within 3-4 min in whole blood, whereas there was no isotopic exchange in plasma. The average rate of interconversion between unlabeled lactate and pyruvate was four to five times (pyruvate to lactate) and three to four times (lactate to pyruvate) the net production rate of lactate. We conclude that there is a very rapid interconversion between lactate and pyruvate in blood that has to be considered in the interpretation of in vivo tracer studies.
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