Microenvironmental pH and exosome levels interplay in human cancer cell lines of different histotypes

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© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Exosomes are extracellular nanovesicles primarily involved in the pathogenesis of many diseases including cancer. This study was set out from recent evidence that extracellular acidity may increase the exosome release by cancer cells. However, this preliminary evidence did not provide solid information on whether the pH-dependent exosome over-release represents a common feature of all cancers. To the purpose of demonstrating that cancer acidity is a major determinant in inducing an increased exosome release by human cancer cells, we evaluated human tumor cell lines deriving from either colon, breast, prostate cancers, melanoma, or osteosarcoma. All cell lines were cultured in either the current 7.4 pH or the typical pH of cancer that is 6.5. The levels of released extracellular vesicles were measured by protein counts, nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA), and nanoscale flow cytometry. The results showed that pH 6.5 induced a remarkable increase in exosome release, and buffering the medium significantly reduced the exosome release in all cancers. With these results, we provide, for the first time, evidence that tumor acidity and exosome levels represent common cancer phenotypes.
Original languageEnglish
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 5 2018


  • Acidity
  • Biomarkers
  • Exosomes
  • Microenvironment
  • Nanoparticle tracking analysis


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