What makes tumors multidrug resistant?

Cell Cycle. 2007 Nov 15;6(22):2782-7. doi: 10.4161/cc.6.22.4936. Epub 2007 Aug 23.


Tumors arising "spontaneously" in genetically modified mice now make it possible to study mechanisms of drug resistance in animal tumors resembling their human counterparts. We have studied mouse mammary tumors induced by conditional deletion of Brca1 and p53. These tumors respond to monotherapy with the maximal tolerable dose of doxorubicin, or docetaxel, but eventually always become resistant to the drugs. Resistance in most tumors is caused by upregulation of drug transporters and not by interference with apoptosis/senescence. The tumors also respond to cisplatin, but do not become resistant, even after repeated treatments at the maximum tolerable dose. We conclude that resistance due to interference with cell death effector pathways (apoptosis/ senescence) is not an option in these tumors, re-emphasizing doubts that such mechanisms play a role in epithelial tumors. Tumors responding to drug may shrink to less than 5% of their volume before relapsing. We argue that this resistant remnant fraction may provide a test for the tumor stem cell hypothesis and, more generally, that "spontaneous" mouse tumors resembling their human counterparts provide a useful new tool for drug development and for improving treatment regimens.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / biosynthesis
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / genetics
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple / physiology*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / drug effects
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Antineoplastic Agents