Targeting the acidic tumor microenvironment: Unexpected pro-neoplastic effects of oral NaHCO3 therapy in murine breast tissue

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The acidic tumor microenvironment modifies malignant cell behavior. Here, we study consequences of the microenvironment in breast carcinomas. Beginning at carcinogen-based breast cancer induction, we supply either regular or NaHCO 3-containing drinking water to female C57BL/6j mice. We evaluate urine and blood acid-base status, tumor metabolism (microdialysis sampling), and tumor pH (pH-sensitive microelectrodes) in vivo. Based on freshly isolated epithelial organoids from breast carcinomas and normal breast tissue, we assess protein expression (immunoblotting, mass spectrometry), intracellular pH (fluorescence microscopy), and cell proliferation (bromodeoxyuridine incorporation). Oral NaHCO 3 therapy increases breast tumor pH in vivo from 6.68 ± 0.04 to 7.04 ± 0.09 and intracellular pH in breast epithelial organoids by ~0.15. Breast tumors develop with median latency of 85.5 ± 8.2 days in NaHCO 3-treated mice vs. 82 ± 7.5 days in control mice. Oral NaHCO 3 therapy does not affect tumor growth, histopathology or glycolytic metabolism. The capacity for cellular net acid extrusion is increased in NaHCO 3-treated mice and correlates negatively with breast tumor latency. Oral NaHCO 3 therapy elevates proliferative activity in organoids from breast carcinomas. Changes in protein expression patterns—observed by high-throughput proteomics analyses—between cancer and normal breast tissue and in response to oral NaHCO 3 therapy reveal complex influences on metabolism, cytoskeleton, cell-cell and cell-matrix interaction, and cell signaling pathways. We conclude that oral NaHCO 3 therapy neutralizes the microenvironment of breast carcinomas, elevates the cellular net acid extrusion capacity, and accelerates proliferation without net effect on breast cancer development or tumor growth. We demonstrate unexpected pro-neoplastic consequences of oral NaHCO 3 therapy that in breast tissue cancel out previously reported anti-neoplastic effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number891
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

    Research areas

  • Acidosis, Bicarbonate, Buffer therapy, Mass spectrometry, PH, Proteomics

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