Sulforaphane and erucin increase MRP1 and MRP2 in human carcinoma cell lines

J Nutr Biochem. 2008 Apr;19(4):246-54. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2007.02.014. Epub 2007 Jul 6.


Multidrug resistance (MDR) transporters have been termed the Phase III detoxification system because they not only export endogenous metabolites but provide protection from xenobiotic insult by actively secreting foreign compounds and their metabolites from tissues. However, MDR overexpression in tumors can lead to drug resistance, a major obstacle in the treatment of many cancers, including lung cancer. Isothiocyanates from cruciferous vegetables, such as sulforaphane (SF) and erucin (ER), are known to enhance the expression of Phase II detoxification enzymes. Here we evaluated the ability of SF and ER to modulate MDR mRNA and protein expressions, as well as transporter activity. The expression of P-glycoprotein (P-gp), multidrug resistance protein 1 (MRP1) and multidrug resistance protein 2 (MRP2) in liver (HepG2), colon (Caco-2) and lung (A549) cancer cells treated with ER or SF was analyzed by Western blotting. Neither SF nor ER affected P-gp expression in any of the cell lines tested. Both SF and ER increased the protein levels of MRP1 and MRP2 in HepG2 cells and of MRP2 in Caco-2 cells in a dose-dependent manner. In A549 lung cancer cells, SF increased MRP1 and MRP2 mRNA and protein levels; ER caused a similar yet smaller increase in MRP1 and MRP2 mRNA. In addition, SF and ER increased MRP1-dependent efflux of 5-carboxyfluorescein diacetate in A549 cells, although again the effect of SF was substantially greater than that of ER. The implication of these findings is that dietary components that modulate detoxification systems should be studied carefully before being recommended for use during chemotherapy, as these compounds may have additional influences on the disposition of chemotherapeutic drugs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anticarcinogenic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Caco-2 Cells
  • Carcinoma / drug therapy
  • Carcinoma / genetics*
  • Carcinoma / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Membrane Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Protein 2
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / genetics*
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Sulfides / pharmacology*
  • Sulfoxides
  • Thiocyanates / pharmacology*


  • ABCC2 protein, human
  • Anticarcinogenic Agents
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Protein 2
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Sulfides
  • Sulfoxides
  • Thiocyanates
  • erucin
  • sulforaphane
  • multidrug resistance-associated protein 1