SB203580, a specific inhibitor of p38-MAPK pathway, is a new reversal agent of P-glycoprotein-mediated multidrug resistance

Eur J Pharm Sci. 2001 Aug;14(1):29-36. doi: 10.1016/s0928-0987(01)00139-7.


P-glycoprotein (P-gp) is the plasma membrane transport pump responsible for efflux of chemotherapeutic agents from cells and is one of the systems that secures multidrug resistance (MDR) of neoplastic cells. In the present study, drug sensitive L1210 and multidrug resistant L1210/VCR (characterized by overexpression of P-gp) mouse leukemic cell lines were used as an experimental model. We have found that SB203580, a specific inhibitor of p38-MAPK pathway, significantly reduced the degree of the vincristine resistance in L1210/VCR cells. This phenomenon was accompanied by a decrease in the LC(50) value of vincristine from 3.203+/-0.521 to 0.557+/-0.082 microM. The LC(50) value of sensitive cells for vincristine was about 0.011 microM. The effect of SB203580 on L1210/VCR cells was associated with significantly increased intracellular accumulation of [3H]-vincristine in the concentration dependent manner. Prolonged exposure of resistant cells to 30 microM SB203580 did neither significantly influence the gene expression of P-gp, nor change the protein levels of p38-MAPK. Western blot analysis revealed that the MDR phenotype in L1210/VCR cells was associated with increased level and activity of cytosolic p38-MAPK. In resistant cells, the enhanced phosphorylation of both, p38-MAPK and ATF-2 (endogenous substrate for p38-MAPK) was found as well. In conclusion we could remark that SB203580, an inhibitor of p38 kinase pathway, reversed the MDR resistance of L1210/VCR cells. MDR phenotype of these cells is connected with increased levels and activities of p38-MAPK. These findings point to the possible involvement of the p38-MAPK pathway in the modulation of P-gp mediated multidrug resistance in the L1210/VCR mouse leukemic cell line. However, the mechanisms of SB203580 action should be further investigated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic / pharmacology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cytosol / drug effects
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple / genetics*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Imidazoles / pharmacology*
  • Leukemia L1210 / enzymology
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Pyridines / pharmacology*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Vincristine / pharmacology
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Antineoplastic Agents, Phytogenic
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Imidazoles
  • Pyridines
  • Vincristine
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • SB 203580