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Multidrug resistance (MDR), which is mediated by multiple drug efflux ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters, is a critical issue in the treatment of acute leukemia, with permeability glycoprotein (P-gp), multidrug resistance-associated protein 1, and breast cancer resistance protein (i.e., ABCG2) consistently being shown to be key effectors of MDR in cell line studies. Studies have demonstrated that intrinsic MDR can arise as a result of specific gene expression profiles and that drug-induced overexpression of P-gp and other MDR proteins can result in acquired resistance, with multiple ABC transporters having been shown to be overexpressed in cell lines selected for resistance to multiple drugs used to treat acute leukemia. Furthermore, numerous anticancer drugs, including agents commonly used for the treatment of acute leukemia (e.g., doxorubicin, vincristine, mitoxantrone, and methotrexate), have been shown to be P-gp substrates or to be susceptible to efflux mediated by other MDR proteins, and multiple clinical studies have demonstrated associations between P-gp or other MDR protein expression and responses to therapy or survival rates in acute leukemia. Here we review the importance of MDR in cancer, with a focus on acute leukemia, and we highlight the need for rapid accurate assessment of MDR status for optimal treatment selection. We also address the latest research on overcoming MDR, from inhibition of P-gp and other MDR proteins through various approaches (including direct antagonism and gene silencing) to the design of novel agents or novel delivery systems for existing therapeutic agents, to evade cellular efflux.


Cindy Q Xia, Peter G Smith. Drug efflux transporters and multidrug resistance in acute leukemia: therapeutic impact and novel approaches to mediation. Molecular pharmacology. 2012 Dec;82(6):1008-21

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PMID: 22826468

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