Role of pharmacogenetics of ATP-binding cassette transporters in the pharmacokinetics of drugs

Pharmacol Ther. 2006 Nov;112(2):457-73. doi: 10.1016/j.pharmthera.2006.04.009.


Interindividual differences of drug response are an important cause of treatment failures and adverse drug reactions. The identification of polymorphisms explaining distinct phenotypes of drug metabolizing enzymes contributed in part to the understanding of individual variations of drug plasma levels. However, bioavailability also depends on a major extent from the expression and activity of drug transport across biomembranes. In particular efflux transporters of the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) family such as ABCB1 (P-glycoprotein, P-gp), the ABCC (multidrug resistance-related protein, MRP) family and ABCG2 (breast cancer resistance protein, BCRP) have been identified as major determinants of chemoresistance in tumor cells. They are expressed in the apical membranes of many barrier tissue such as the intestine, liver, blood-brain barrier, kidney, placenta, testis and in lymphocytes, thus contributing to plasma, liquor, but also intracellular drug disposition. Since expression and function exhibit a broad variability, it was hypothesized that hereditary variances in the genes of membrane transporters could explain at least in part interindividual differences of pharmacokinetics and clinical outcome of a variety of drugs. This review focuses on the functional significance of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP) of ABCB1, ABCC1, ABCC2, and ABCG2 in in vitro systems, in vivo tissues and drug disposition, as well as on the clinical outcome of major indications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics*
  • Biological Availability
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple / genetics
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Pharmacogenetics*
  • Pharmacokinetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters