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Phenotypic changes of acid-adapted cancer cells push them toward aggressiveness in their evolution in the tumor microenvironment

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posted on 18.09.2017 by Mehdi Damaghi, Robert Gillies

The inter- and intra-tumoral metabolic phenotypes of tumors are heterogeneous, and this is related to microenvironments that select for increased glycolysis. Increased glycolysis leads to decreased pH, and these local microenvironment effects lead to further selection. Hence, heterogeneity of phenotypes is an indirect consequence of altering microenvironments during carcinogenesis. In early stages of growth, tumors are stratified, with the most aggressive cells developing within the acidic interior of the tumor. However, these cells eventually find themselves at the tumor edge, where they invade into the normal tissue via acid-mediated invasion. We believe acid adaptation during the evolution of cancer cells in their niche is a Rubicon that, once crossed, allows cells to invade into and outcompete normal stromal tissue. In this study, we illustrate some acid-induced phenotypic changes due to acidosis resulting in more aggressiveness and invasiveness of cancer cells.