Inhibition of carbonic anhydrase (CA, EC was clinically exploited for decades, as most modern diuretics were obtained considering as lead molecule acetazolamide, the prototypical CA inhibitor (CAI). The discovery and characterization of multiple human CA (hCA) isoforms, 15 of which being known today, led to new applications of their inhibitors. They include widely clinically used antiglaucoma, antiepileptic and antiobesity agents, antitumor drugs in clinical development, as well as drugs for the management of acute mountain sickness and idiopathic intracranial hypertension (IIH). Emerging roles of several CA isoforms in areas not generally connected to these enzymes were recently documented, such as in neuropathic pain, cerebral ischemia, rheumatoid arthritis, oxidative stress and Alzheimer’s disease. Proof-of-concept studies thus emerged by using isoform-selective inhibitors, which may lead to new clinical applications in such areas. Relevant preclinical models are available for these pathologies due to the availability of isoform-selective CAIs for all human isoforms, belonging to novel classes of compounds, such as coumarins, sulfocoumarins, dithiocarbamates, benzoxaboroles, apart the classical sulfonamide inhibitors. The inhibition of CAs from pathogenic bacteria, fungi, protozoans or nematodes started recently to be considered for obtaining anti-infectives with a new mechanism of action.

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