How cancer cells move and metastasize is influenced by the fluids surrounding them. In recently published research, medical scientists from Binghamton University found that human breast cancer cell migration is enhanced by the flow and viscosity of the fluids surrounding them, clarifying one of the factors influencing how tumors metastasize. The influence of pH on viscosity is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that is important to understand to achieve successful cancer treatment outcomes.
One key feature of cancer cells, including breast cancer cells, is a reversed pH gradient, which causes the extracellular pH of cancer cells to be more acidic than normal cells. A growing body of literature suggests alkaline therapy could reverse the pH gradient back to normal and treat cancer.
“Cancer cells inside the body live in a complex environment or neighborhood. Where the tumor cell resides and who its neighbors are influenced its response and resistance to therapy,” said senior author Dr. Peter S. Nelson, a member of the Hutchinson Cancer Center‘s Human Biology Division. “Our findings indicate that the tumor microenvironment also can influence the success or failure of these more precise therapies.” In other words, the same cancer cell, when exposed to different “neighborhoods,” may have very different responses to treatment.
Everyone knows all biological life is pH sensitive, which goes for inside and outside cancer cells. The cells’ surroundings, known as their microenvironment, contribute to how cancer has occurred and how it spreads. The interactions between cancer cells and acidic micro and macro environments create a context that promotes tumor growth and protects them from immune attack. Living tissue continually produces or consumes acids (or bases) through chemical reactions. Because of cellular respiration (yielding CO2 and lactic acid), most cells are net acid producers; hence, intracellular pH (pHi) tends to fall.
Cancer cells cannot turn into lethal tumors without the cooperation of other cells nearby. It is not just the other surrounding cells but the interstitial environments controlled mainly by pH. Bicarbonate offers radical shifts in pH. pH directly affects the flow and viscosity of extracellular fluids.
pH’s Influence on Viscosity: The Science Behind it
Viscosity, the measure of a fluid’s resistance to deformation, is influenced by various factors, including temperature, pressure, and shear rate. However, pH is an often-overlooked factor that can significantly impact a fluid’s viscosity.
pH, which measures the acidity or alkalinity of a solution, can affect viscosity through various mechanisms. One key mechanism involves the influence of pH on molecular interactions, such as hydrogen bonding and ionization. At different pH levels, these interactions can either strengthen or weaken, leading to changes in the flow properties of liquids.
For example, pH adjustments can affect the solubility and electrostatic interactions between molecules in aqueous solutions containing polymers or proteins, ultimately affecting viscosity. Similarly, for surfactant solutions, pH can alter the micelle structure and size, impacting the flow properties of the fluid.
Furthermore, changes in pH can also affect the degree of hydration of molecules in the solution, which can, in turn, impact viscosity. The degree of hydration can influence the size and shape of molecules, affecting their packing and interactions with other molecules within the fluid.
Overall, understanding the scientific principles behind pH’s influence on viscosity is crucial for industries seeking to optimize their products’ physical properties. Companies can achieve desired viscosity outcomes by controlling pH enhancing their products’ performance and appeal. We can do the same for our bodies when we understand and harness carbon dioxide and bicarbonate medicine to treat cancer.
Cell survival is conditional on maintaining a favorable acid–base balance (pH). Due to changes in CO2 and lactic acid production, cancer cells are continuously exposed to large acid–base fluxes. In poorly perfused tumors, additional diffusion-reaction mechanisms involving carbonic anhydrase (CA) enzymes fine-tuning control extracellular pH. This enzyme is responsible for the lightning-fast conversions of CO2 into bicarbonate ions, with carbonic acid being the mid-state in-between.
The ability of H+ ions (acid conditions increase H+ ion density) to change the state of proteins underlies the exquisite pH sensitivity of cellular behavior, including critical processes in cancer formation and metastasis (proliferation, cell cycle, transformation, migration).
Temperature and Hydration
Gas viscosity increases with temperature, whereas liquid viscosity decreases with temperature. Because intermolecular forces weaken with temperature, viscosity decreases. Temperature increases typically cause an increase in molecular interchange because molecules move faster at higher temperatures. Dehydration clearly leads to increased viscosity of the blood and fluids of the body.
Extracellular Matrix Regulates Gene Expression & Cancer
Cancer involves an interaction between rogue cells and surrounding tissue. This is the clear message that Dr. Mina Bissell, the director of life sciences at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab in California (LBNL). Cancer cells routinely form in most people’s bodies, but that does not mean they are going to succeed in capturing their host’s valuable resources so they can invade and take our lives.
The microenvironment includes a complex scaffolding called the extracellular matrix on which cells grow and develop. The microenvironment is what surrounds a cell. “If tissue architecture and context are part of the message, then tumor cells with abnormal genomes should be capable of becoming ‘normal'” if grown in a healthy microenvironment. Dr. Bissell and her students tested that hypothesis with some malignant cells, growing them on a healthy scaffolding. And yes, they could revert the malignant phenotype to a normal one. They could even inject the cells into mice where they didn’t cause tumors, unlike malignant cells, which would cause cancer. This, says Bissell, indicates that there is another way to look at cancer—that the environment around them regulates cancer genes.
Dr. Bissell’s basic idea is that cancer cells cannot turn into lethal tumors without the cooperation of other cells nearby. It is not just the other surrounding cells but also the interstitial environment, which would include pH and nutrient levels supplied by the blood. That may be why autopsies repeatedly find that most people who die of causes other than cancer have at least some tiny tumors in their bodies that have gone unnoticed. According to current thinking, the tumors were kept in check, causing no harm.
“Think of it as this kid in a bad neighborhood,” said Dr. Susan Love, a breast cancer surgeon and Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation president. “You can take the kid out of the neighborhood and put him in a different environment, and he will behave differently.” She added, “It’s exciting. If all this environmental stuff is right, it means that we should be able to reverse cancer without killing cells. This could open up a whole new way of thinking about cancer that would be much less assaultive.”
Dr. Bissell is now hailed as a hero, with an award named after her. “You have created a paradigm shift,” the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology wrote in a letter announcing that she had won its 2008 Excellence in Science award.
Reading about a new drug that will not be available for years, “Our research shows that Ku70 can ‘cool off’ cancer cells and mop up damaged DNA. The protein prevents the cancer cells from becoming more aggressive and spreading throughout the body, deactivating them and keeping them dormant.”
Sounds a lot like the anti-cancer effects of sodium bicarbonate, which is available to most people in the world today at an incredibly low price. Growing evidence for the importance of pH Medicine in cancer treatment has made this common substance, baking soda, into the most fundamental and necessary natural chemotherapy that exists.