Cytokines alter the expression and activity of the multidrug resistance transporters in human hepatoma cell lines; analysis using RT-PCR and cDNA microarrays

J Pharm Sci. 2003 Nov;92(11):2152-63. doi: 10.1002/jps.10493.


Pro-inflammatory cytokines suppress the hepatic expression of the multidrug resistance transporters in rodents, indicating potential usefulness in chemotherapy. Our objective was to investigate their impact in human hepatoma cells. HuH 7 and HepG2 cells were treated with IL-1beta, IL-6, or TNF-alpha for 0-72 h. Expression and activity of MDR1 and the MRP (MRP1, 2, 3, and 6) transporters were examined by RT-PCR, efflux assays, and microarrays. Significant reductions in the MDR1-mediated efflux of Rhodamine 123 and MDR1 mRNA levels were observed in HuH 7 cells treated with IL-6, TNF-alpha, or IL-1beta and in TNF-alpha-treated HepG2 cells. However, cytokine-treated HuH7 cells also demonstrated 1.6- to 2.6-fold greater efflux of the MRP substrate, 5-carboxyfluorescein (5-CF) and higher MRP3 mRNA levels (p < 0.05). IL-1beta and IL-6 treatments increased MRP activity and MRP1 mRNA levels in HepG2 cells (p < 0.05). Microarrays studies performed in IL-6 and TNF-alpha-treated HepG2 cells detected similar changes in the expression of the MDR1 and MRP transporters, but this did not reach significance. However, the microarrays confirmed cytokine-mediated induction of several acute phase proteins. Our data suggests that although cytokine-mediated suppression of PGP may alter drug resistance in malignant cells, these cytokines may also impose an induction in other multidrug resistance genes.

MeSH terms

  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism*
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cytokines / pharmacology*
  • DNA, Complementary / biosynthesis
  • DNA, Complementary / genetics
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • RNA / biosynthesis
  • RNA / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / pharmacology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Rhodamine 123


  • Cytokines
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Rhodamine 123
  • RNA