l-Lactate and pyruvate permeability and utilization in carp (Cyprinus carpio) red blood cells was studied in vitro with tracer methods. Transport of lactate and pyruvate across the carp red blood cell membrane is rapid. At low plasma concentrations, lactate and pyruvate are transported into carp red blood cells mainly via a specific monocarboxylate carrier. This is shown by a study of the saturation kinetics and by inhibition using alpha-cyano-4-hydroxycinnamic acid and, more powerfully, p-chloromercuriphenylsulphonic acid. At higher plasma concentrations both simple diffusion and, apparently, the band 3 anion exchange system become increasingly important transport pathways. Carbon dioxide production rates from lactate and pyruvate as a function of their extracellular concentrations showed saturation kinetics. The transport rates of lactate and pyruvate are considerably higher than those required for their maximal rate of oxidation. The rapid transport of lactate and pyruvate into carp red blood cells thus guarantees that substrate availability is not the rate-limiting factor for the oxidation of these substrates.

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