A number of studies have shown that the extracellular pH (pHe) in cancers is typically lower than that in normal tissue and that an acidic pHe promotes invasive tumor growth in primary and metastatic cancers. Here, we investigate the hypothesis that increased systemic concentrations of pH buffers reduce intratumoral and peritumoral acidosis and, as a result, inhibit malignant growth. Computer simulations are used to quantify the ability of systemic pH buffers to increase the acidic pHe of tumors in vivo and investigate the chemical specifications of an optimal buffer for such purpose. We show that increased serum concentrations of the sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) can be achieved by ingesting amounts that have been used in published clinical trials. Furthermore, we find that consequent reduction of tumor acid concentrations significantly reduces tumor growth and invasion without altering the pH of blood or normal tissues. The simulations also show that the critical parameter governing buffer effectiveness is its pKa. This indicates that NaHCO3, with a pKa of 6.1, is not an ideal intratumoral buffer and that greater intratumoral pHe changes could be obtained using a buffer with a pKa of ∼7. The simulations support the hypothesis that systemic pH buffers can be used to increase the tumor pHe and inhibit tumor invasion. [Cancer Res 2009;69(6):2677–84]
- tumor acidosis
- mathematical model
- sodium bicarbonate
- computer simulations
- tumor invasion
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Cancer Research Online (http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received June 23, 2008.
- Revision received December 19, 2008.
- Accepted December 22, 2008.
- ©2009 American Association for Cancer Research.