P-glycoprotein as a Drug Target in the Treatment of Multidrug Resistant Cancer

Lehne, Gustav
July 2000
Current Drug Targets;Jul2000, Vol. 1 Issue 1, p85
Academic Journal
Multidrug resistance (MDR) is a major obstacle to successful cancer chemotherapy. One important mechanism of MDR involves the multidrug transporter, P-glycoprotein (Pgp), which confers upon cancer cells the ability to resist lethal doses of certain cytotoxic drugs by pumping the drugs out of the cells and thus reducing their cytotoxicity. Pgp belongs to the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) family of transporter molecules which require hydrolysis of ATP to run the transport mechanism. The substrates of Pgp may be endogenous (steroid hormones, cytokines) or exogenous (cytostatic drugs). A number of studies have demonstrated a negative correlation between Pgp expression levels and chemosensitivity or survival in a range of human malignancies. In principle, Pgp mediated drug resistance can be circumvented by treatment regimens that either exclude Pgp substrate drugs or include Pgp inhibitory agents. Experimental studies have demonstrated that certain structural modifications of anthracyclines confer the ability to escape Pgp transport. The therapeutic benefit of Pgp inhibitors as chemosensitizers is currently being explored in phase III clinical trials, and the first promising results have already been reported. Another therapeutic option for Pgp inhibitors has recently evolved as several Pgp inhibitors, many of which are generally low-toxic substances, by themselves constrain proliferation and cause cell death by apoptosis in certain MDR cancer cell lines. The dual effect of Pgp inhibitors, targeting MDR cancer cells selectively, may translate into improved efficacy of cancer chemotherapy and perhaps new and less toxic drug treatment strategies in human MDR cancer.


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