Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma is among the top 10 causes of death from cancer in industrialized countries. In comparison with other gastrointestinal malignancies, pancreatic cancer is one of the tumors most resistant to chemotherapy. An important mechanism of tumor multidrug resistance is increased drug efflux mediated by several transporters of the ABC superfamily. Especially BCRP (ABCG2), MDR1 P-glycoprotein (ABCB1) and members of the MRP (ABCC) family are important in mediating drug resistance. The MRP family consists of 9 members (MRP1-MRP9) with MRP1-MRP6 being best characterized with respect to protein localization and substrate selectivity. Here, we quantified the mRNA expression of BCRP and of all MRP family members in normal human pancreas and pancreatic carcinoma and analyzed the mRNA level of the transporters most abundantly expressed in pancreatic tissue, BCRP, MRP1, MRP3, MRP4 and MRP5, in 37 tissue samples. In addition, we determined the localization of the 4 MRP proteins in normal human pancreas and in pancreatic carcinoma. The expression of BCRP, MRP1 and MRP4 mRNA did not correlate with tumor stage or grading. On the other hand, the expression of MRP3 mRNA was upregulated in pancreatic carcinoma samples and was correlated with tumor grading. The MRP5 mRNA level was significantly higher in pancreatic carcinoma tissue compared to normal pancreatic tissue. These data suggest that MRP3 and MRP5 are involved in drug resistance of pancreatic tumors and that quantitative analysis of their expression may contribute to predict the benefit of chemotherapy in patients with pancreatic cancer.
(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.