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Bioimpacts. 2013;3(4):149-62. doi: 10.5681/bi.2013.036. Epub 2013 Dec 10.

Dysregulated pH in Tumor Microenvironment Checkmates Cancer Therapy.

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Research Center for Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology, Faculty of Pharmacy, Tabriz University of Medical Sciences, Tabriz, Iran.



The dysregulation of pH by cancerous cells of solid tumors is able to create a unique milieu that is in favor of progression, invasion and metastasis as well as chemo-/immuno-resistance traits of solid tumors. Bioelements involved in pH dysregulation provide new set of oncotargets, inhibition of which may result in better clinical outcome.


To study the impacts of pH dysregulation, we investigated the tumor development and progression in relation with Warburg effect, glycolysis and formation of aberrant tumor microenvironment.


The upregulation of glucose transporter GLUT-1 and several enzymes involve in glycolysis exacerbates this phenomenon. The accumulation of lactic acids in cancer cells provokes upregulation of several transport machineries (MCT-1, NHE-1, CA IX and H(+) pump V-ATPase) resulting in reinforced efflux of proton into extracellular fluid. This deviant event makes pH to be settled at 7.4 and 6.6 respectively in cancer cells cytoplasm and extracellular fluid within the tumor microenvironment, which in return triggers secretion of lysosomal components (various enzymes in acidic milieu with pH 5) into cytoplasm. All these anomalous phenomena make tumor microenvironment (TME) to be exposed to cocktail of various enzymes with acidic pH, upon which extracellular matrix (ECM) can be remodeled and even deformed, resulting in emergence of a complex viscose TME with high interstitial fluid pressure.


It seems that pH dysregulation is able to remodel various physiologic functions and make solid tumors to become much more invasive and metastatic. It also can cause undesired resistance to chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Hence, cancer therapy needs to be reinforced using specific inhibitors of bioelements involved in pH dysregulation of TME in solid tumors.


Glycolysis; Tumor microenvironment; Warburg effect; pH dysregulation

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