Modulatory effects of plant phenols on human multidrug-resistance proteins 1, 4 and 5 (ABCC1, 4 and 5)

FEBS J. 2005 Sep;272(18):4725-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-4658.2005.04888.x.


Plant flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds, commonly found in vegetables, fruits and many food sources that form a significant portion of our diet. These compounds have been shown to interact with several ATP-binding cassette transporters that are linked with anticancer and antiviral drug resistance and, as such, may be beneficial in modulating drug resistance. This study investigates the interactions of six common polyphenols; quercetin, silymarin, resveratrol, naringenin, daidzein and hesperetin with the multidrug-resistance-associated proteins, MRP1, MRP4 and MRP5. At nontoxic concentrations, several of the polyphenols were able to modulate MRP1-, MRP4- and MRP5-mediated drug resistance, though to varying extents. The polyphenols also reversed resistance to NSC251820, a compound that appears to be a good substrate for MRP4, as predicted by data-mining studies. Furthermore, most of the polyphenols showed direct inhibition of MRP1-mediated [3H]dinitrophenyl S-glutathione and MRP4-mediated [3H]cGMP transport in inside-out vesicles prepared from human erythrocytes. Also, both quercetin and silymarin were found to inhibit MRP1-, MRP4- and MRP5-mediated transport from intact cells with high affinity. They also had significant effects on the ATPase activity of MRP1 and MRP4 without having any effect on [32P]8-azidoATP[alphaP] binding to these proteins. This suggests that these flavonoids most likely interact at the transporter's substrate-binding sites. Collectively, these results suggest that dietary flavonoids such as quercetin and silymarin can modulate transport activities of MRP1, -4 and -5. Such interactions could influence bioavailability of anticancer and antiviral drugs in vivo and thus, should be considered for increasing efficacy in drug therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Biological Transport / drug effects
  • Cell Line
  • Drug Resistance / drug effects
  • Erythrocyte Membrane
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Phenols / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Transfection


  • ABCC4 protein, human
  • ABCC5 protein, human
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B
  • Flavonoids
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • Phenols
  • Plant Extracts
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • multidrug resistance-associated protein 1