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The ATP-dependent drug efflux pump P-glycoprotein (P-gp) affects the absorption and disposition of many compounds. P-gp may also play role in clinically significant drug-drug interactions. Therefore, it is important to find potential substrates or inhibitors of P-gp early in the drug discovery process. To identify compounds that interact with this transporter, several P-gp assays were validated and compared by testing a set of 28 reference compounds, including inhibitors of cytochrome P450 3A4 (CYP3A4). The assays included in silico predictions, inhibition assays (based on cellular uptake of rhodamine-123 or calcein AM), and functional assays (ATPase activity assay and transcellular transport assay, the latter for a subset of compounds). In addition, species differences were studied in an indirect fluorescence indicator screening assay and test systems expressing porcine, mouse, or human P-gp. Our results suggest that several P-gp assays should be used in combination to classify compounds as substrates or inhibitors of P-gp. Recommendations are given on screening strategies which can be applied to different phases of the drug discovery and development process.


Dietmar Schwab, Holger Fischer, Ali Tabatabaei, Sonia Poli, Jörg Huwyler. Comparison of in vitro P-glycoprotein screening assays: recommendations for their use in drug discovery. Journal of medicinal chemistry. 2003 Apr 24;46(9):1716-25

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PMID: 12699389

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