A functional assay for quantitation of the apparent affinities of ligands of P-glycoprotein in Caco-2 cells

Pharm Res. 2001 Feb;18(2):171-6. doi: 10.1023/a:1011076217118.


Purpose: To develop a facile functional assay for quantitative determination of the apparent affinities of compounds that interact with the taxol binding site of P-glcoprotein (P-gp) in Caco-2 cell monolayers.

Methods: A transport inhibition approach was taken to determine the inhibitory effects of compounds on the active transport of [3H]-taxol, a known substrate of P-gp. The apparent affinities (K(I) values) of the compounds were quantitatively determined based on the inhibitory effects of the compounds on the active transport of [3H]-taxol. Intact Caco-2 cell monolayers were utilized for transport inhibition studies. Samples were analyzed by liquid scintillation counting.

Results: [3H]-Taxol (0.04 microM) showed polarized transport with the basolateral (BL) to apical (AP) flux rate being about 10-20 times faster than the flux rate in the AP-to-BL direction. This difference in [3H]-taxol flux could be totally abolished by inclusion of (+/-)-verapamil (0.2 mM), a known inhibitor of P-gp, in the incubation medium. However, inclusion of probenecid (1.0 mM), a known inhibitor for the multidrug resistance associated protein (MRP), did not significantly affect the transport of [3H]-taxol under the same conditions. These results suggest that P-gp, not MRP, was involved in taxol transport. Quinidine, daunorubicin, verapamil, taxol, doxorubicin, vinblastine, etoposide, and celiprolol were examined as inhibitors of the BL-to-AP transport of [3H]-taxol with resulting K(I) values of 1.5+/-0.8, 2.5+/-1.0, 3.0+/-0.3, 7.3+/-0.7, 8.5+/-2.8, 36.5+/-1.5, 276+/-69, and 313+/-112 microM, respectively. With the exception of that of quinidine, these K(I) values were comparable with literature values.

Conclusions: This assay allows a facile quantitation of the apparent affinities of compounds to the taxol-binding site in P-gp, however, this assay does not permit the differentiation of substrates and inhibitors. The potential of drug-drug interactions involving the taxol binding site of P-gp can be conveniently estimated using the protocol described in this paper.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / metabolism*
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / metabolism*
  • Biological Transport
  • Biological Transport, Active
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Drug Interactions
  • Humans
  • Ligands
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Paclitaxel / metabolism*
  • Tritium


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Ligands
  • Tritium
  • Paclitaxel