Tumor acidity as evolutionary spite

Cancers (Basel). 2011 Jan 20;3(1):408-14. doi: 10.3390/cancers3010408.


Most cancer cells shift their metabolic pathway from a metabolism reflecting the Pasteur-effect into one reflecting the Warburg-effect. This shift creates an acidic microenvironment around the tumor and becomes the driving force for a positive carcinogenesis feedback loop. As a consequence of tumor acidity, the tumor microenvironment encourages a selection of certain cell phenotypes that are able to survive in this caustic environment to the detriment of other cell types. This selection can be described by a process which can be modeled upon spite: the tumor cells reduce their own fitness by making an acidic environment, but this reduces the fitness of their competitors to an even greater extent. Moreover, the environment is an important dimension that further drives this spite process. Thus, diminishing the selective environment most probably interferes with the spite process. Such interference has been recently utilized in cancer treatment.