Cause and effect of microenvironmental acidosis on bone metastases

Sofia Avnet, Gemma Di Pompo, Silvia Lemma, Nicola Baldini

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Skeletal involvement is a frequent and troublesome complication in advanced cancers. In the process of tumor cells homing to the skeleton to form bone metastases (BM), different mechanisms allow tumor cells to interact with cells of the bone microenvironment and seed in the bone tissue. Among these, tumor acidosis has been directly associated with tumor invasion and aggressiveness in several types of cancer although it has been less explored in the context of BM. In bone, the association of local acidosis and cancer invasiveness is even more important for tumor expansion since the extracellular matrix is formed by both organic and hard inorganic matrices and bone cells are used to sense protons and adapt or react to a low pH to maintain tissue homeostasis. In the BM microenvironment, increased concentration of protons may derive not only from glycolytic tumor cells but also from tumor-induced osteoclasts, the bone-resorbing cells, and may influence the progression or symptoms of BM in many different ways, by directly enhancing cancer cell motility and aggressiveness, or by modulating the functions of bone cells versus a pro-tumorigenic phenotype, or by inducing bone pain. In this review, we will describe and discuss the cause of acidosis in BM, its role in BM microenvironment, and which are the final effectors that may be targeted to treat metastatic patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-147
Number of pages15
JournalCancer and Metastasis Reviews
Issue number1-2
Early online dateMar 2 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Bone metastases
  • Acidosis
  • Osteoclast
  • Tumor microenvironment
  • Bone resorption
  • Pain


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