How and Why Are Cancers Acidic? Carbonic Anhydrase IX and the Homeostatic Control of Tumour Extracellular pH

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Lee, Shen-Han 

The acidic tumour microenvironment is now recognized as a tumour phenotype that drives cancer somatic evolution and disease progression, causing cancer cells to become more invasive and to metastasise. This property of solid tumours reflects a complex interplay between cellular carbon metabolism and acid removal that is mediated by cell membrane carbonic anhydrases and various transport proteins, interstitial fluid buffering, and abnormal tumour-associated vessels. In the past two decades, a convergence of advances in the experimental and mathematical modelling of human cancers, as well as non-invasive pH-imaging techniques, has yielded new insights into the physiological mechanisms that govern tumour extracellular pH (pHe). In this review, we examine the mechanisms by which solid tumours maintain a low pHe, with a focus on carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX), a cancer-associated cell surface enzyme. We also review the accumulating evidence that suggest a role for CAIX as a biological pH-stat by which solid tumours stabilize their pHe. Finally, we highlight the prospects for the clinical translation of CAIX-targeted therapies in oncology.

cancer microenvironment, tumour pH, carbonic anhydrase IX, cancer metabolism, pH-stat, pH measurement in vivo, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, models of tumour pH regulation
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