This study aimed to establish a real-time monitoring system for evaluating the acid-producing activity of cells and the effects of microenvironmental pH on their metabolism. Oral squamous cell carcinoma (HSC-2, HSC-3) and normal (HaCaT) cells were used. Their acid-producing activity from glucose, glutamine, and glutamate was monitored at various pH values using a pH stat system. Their production of lactic acid and ammonia was also measured. The acid-producing activity was monitored successfully. Both the cancer and normal cells produced acids from glucose, glutamine, and glutamate. All of the cells decreased their acid-producing activity as the environmental pH fell, but in glucose-derived acid-producing activity the cancer cells were more acid-tolerant than HaCaT cells. In the cancer cells, the proportion of lactic acid among all acids produced from glucose at the acidic environment tended to be higher than that in HaCaT cells. All of the cells produced ammonia from glutamine, while only HaCaT cells produced ammonia from glutamate. We established a real-time monitoring system for evaluating the acid-producing activity of cells. Our results suggest that the cancer cells possess acid-tolerant glucose metabolism with a tendency of metabolic shift to lactic acid production at acidic pH and they metabolise glutamate without ammonia production.
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