Diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic implications of carbonic anhydrases in cancer

Br J Cancer. 2003 Jul 7;89(1):2-7. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6600936.


The carbonic anhydrases (CAs) comprise a family of evolutionarily ancient enzymes found ubiquitously in nature. They have important roles in facilitating transport of carbon dioxide and protons in the intracellular space, across biological membranes and in the unstirred layers of the extracellular space. The tumour-associated isoenzymes, CAIX and CAXII, are expressed in a wide variety of malignancies and appear to be tightly regulated by microenvironmental hypoxia. CAIX expression is linked to poor prognosis in a number of human tumours, and may be a marker of aggressive malignant phenotype and a mechanism of progression. Inhibitors of CA may inhibit tumour growth and invasion, with consequent therapeutic potential.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Neoplasm / genetics
  • Antigens, Neoplasm / pharmacology*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis*
  • Carbonic Anhydrase IX
  • Carbonic Anhydrases / genetics
  • Carbonic Anhydrases / pharmacology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hypoxia
  • Isoenzymes
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Prognosis


  • Antigens, Neoplasm
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Isoenzymes
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • CA9 protein, human
  • Carbonic Anhydrase IX
  • Carbonic Anhydrases