Mechanisms of altered sequestration and efflux of chemotherapeutic drugs by multidrug-resistant cells

Cell Biol Toxicol. 1999 Apr;15(2):91-100. doi: 10.1023/a:1007521430236.


This review considers the mechanisms associated with the pleiotropic resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs, and more particularly those related to intracellular pH (pHi). The multidrug resistance (MDR) phenomenon responsible for the decreased accumulation and increased efflux of cytotoxic drugs is generally associated with excess levels of P-glycoproteins (Pgps) encoded by MDR genes and/or the multidrug resistance-associated protein (MRP). MDR cell lines, derived from normal or tumor cells, frequently exhibit abnormally elevated pHi and changes in the production of various proteins. Recent studies have suggested that, in addition to the impact of the ATP-dependent membrane transporters Pgp and MRP on drug transport, other mechanisms linked to pHi changes in MDR cells may play an important role in drug resistance. We have shown that alkalinization of the acidic compartments (endosomes and lysosomes) by lysosomotropic agents could stimulate the efflux of vinblastine from drug-resistant mouse renal proximal tubule cells. The fact that weak base chemotherapeutic drugs can be sequestered within the acidic organelles of MDR cells sheds new light on the cellular mechanisms of drug resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Intracellular Fluid
  • Mice


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Antineoplastic Agents