Researchers develop biosensor to monitor lactate levels

Researchers at the University of California San Diego were able to accurately measure lactate levels in real time during exercise with the use of a biosensor that is worn on the skin like a tattoo, according to a study published in Analytical Chemistry.

Lactate is a form of lactic acid that is released in sweat when muscles need more energy than the body can supply from the aerobic respiration that occurs during mild forms of exercise. During more demanding forms of exercise, the body shifts to anaerobic metabolism and produces lactic acid and lactate. If too much lactate builds up, extreme fatigue can result and athletes may “hit the wall.” Currently, methods for measuring lactate are cumbersome, require blood samples or cannot provide instantaneous results.

The researchers tested the biosensor on 10 participants who wore it on their skin like a temporary tattoo during a prolonged cycling exercise. They found that the sensor accurately measured lactate levels in sweat during exercise.

“Such skin-worn metabolic biosensors could lead to useful insights into physical performance and overall physiological status, hence offering considerable promise for diverse sport, military and biomedical applications,” the study authors stated in a news release.

For more information:

Wang J. Anal Chem. 2013. doi: 10.1021/ac401573r.

Disclosure: This study was funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health IMSD program, the UCSD von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center under the US Department of Energy-sponsored Southern California Clean Energy Technology Acceleration Program and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

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