Author(s): Gerweck LE, Vijayappa S, Kozin S
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Abstract The extracellular pH of tumor tissue is significantly lower than the extracellular pH of normal tissue, whereas the intracellular pH of both tissues is similar. In principle, extracellular acidity may be expected to enhance the intracellular uptake and cytotoxicity of weak acid chemotherapeutics that are membrane permeable in their uncharged state and inhibit the efficacy of weak bases. However, procedures for assessing the role of the gradient as a determinant of drug efficacy in vivo by altering the pH gradient may also alter drug availability and thus mask or exaggerate the effect of the gradient change. In the present study, we have altered the extracellular pH of tumors and compared the effect of the resultant pH gradient change on the efficacy of a weak acid versus a weak base. This experimental design gives rise to a change in the ratio of chlorambucil- to doxorubicin-induced tumor growth delay, independent of possible changes in drug availability. The extracellular pH of the 54A human tumor in NCr/Sed/nu/nu mice was altered by administration of 5 mg/g i.v. glucose. The resultant 0.2 pH unit increase in the tumor cell pH gradient gives rise to a predicted 2.3-fold increase in the ratio of chlorambucil to doxorubicin growth delay. The experimentally measured change in the growth delay ratio was 2.1. The results provide compelling evidence that the pH gradient in a determinant of the efficacy of weak electrolytes in the complex in vivo environment and may be exploited for the treatment of cancer.
This article was published in Mol Cancer Ther
and referenced in Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Medical Devices