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Abstract

At least 14 different carbonic anhydrase (CA, EC 4.2.1.1) isoforms were isolated in higher vertebrates, where these zinc enzymes play crucial physiological roles. Some of these isozymes are cytosolic (CA I, CA II, CA III, CA VII), others are membrane-bound (CA IV, CA IX, CA XII, and CA XIV), CA V is mitochondrial and CA VI is secreted in saliva. Three acatalytic forms are also known, which are denominated CA related proteins (CARP), CARP VIII, CARP X, and CARP XI. Several important physiological and physio-pathological functions are played by many CA isozymes, which are strongly inhibited by aromatic and heterocyclic sulfonamides as well as inorganic, metal complexing anions. The catalytic and inhibition mechanisms of these enzymes are understood in detail, and this helped the design of potent inhibitors, some of which possess important clinical applications. The use of such enzyme inhibitors as antiglaucoma drugs will be discussed in detail, together with the recent developments that led to isozyme-specific and organ-selective inhibitors. A recent discovery is connected with the involvement of CAs and their sulfonamide inhibitors in cancer: several potent sulfonamide inhibitors inhibited the growth of a multitude of tumor cells in vitro and in vivo, thus constituting interesting leads for developing novel antitumor therapies. Furthermore, some other classes of compounds that interact with CAs have recently been discovered, some of which possess modified sulfonamide or hydroxamate moieties. Some sulfonamides have also applications as diagnostic tools, in PET and MRI or as antiepileptics or for the treatment of other neurological disorders. Future prospects for drug design applications for inhibitors of these ubiquitous enzymes are also discussed. © 2002 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Med Res Rev, 23, No. 2, 146–189, 2003