Mechanisms of resistance to cisplatin and carboplatin

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2007 Jul;63(1):12-31. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2007.02.001. Epub 2007 Mar 1.


While cisplatin and carboplatin are active versus most common cancers, epithelial malignancies are incurable when metastatic. Even if an initial response occurs, acquired resistance due to mutations and epigenetic events limits efficacy. Resistance may be due to excess of a resistance factor, to saturation of factors required for tumor cell killing, or to mutation or alteration of a factor required for tumor cell killing. Platinum resistance could arise from decreased tumor blood flow, extracellular conditions, reduced platinum uptake, increased efflux, intracellular detoxification by glutathione, etc., decreased binding (e.g., due to high intracellular pH), DNA repair, decreased mismatch repair, defective apoptosis, antiapoptotic factors, effects of several signaling pathways, or presence of quiescent non-cycling cells. In lung cancer, flattening of dose-response curves at higher doses suggests that efficacy is limited by exhaustion of something required for cell killing, and several clinical observations suggest epigenetic events may play a major role in resistance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism
  • Carboplatin / administration & dosage*
  • Carboplatin / metabolism
  • Cisplatin / administration & dosage*
  • Cisplatin / metabolism
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Humans


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Carboplatin
  • Cisplatin