Interaction of ABC multidrug transporters with anticancer protein kinase inhibitors: substrates and/or inhibitors?

Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2009 May;9(3):252-72. doi: 10.2174/156800909788166565.


Protein kinase inhibitors (PKI) are becoming key agents in modern cancer chemotherapy, and combination of PKIs with classical chemotherapeutic drugs may help to overcome currently untreatable metastatic cancers. Since chemotherapy resistance is a recurrent problem, mechanisms of resistance should be clarified in order to help further drug development. Here we suggest that in addition to PKI resistance based on altered target structures, the active removal of these therapeutic agents by the MDR-ABC transporters should also be considered as a major cause of clinical resistance. We discuss the occurring systemic and cellular mechanisms, which may hamper PKI efficiency, and document the role of selected MDR-ABC transporters in these phenomena through their interactions with these anticancer agents. Moreover, we suggest that PKI interactions with ABC transporters may modulate overall drug metabolism, including the fate of diverse, chemically or target-wise unrelated drugs. These effects are based on multiple forms of MDR-ABC transporter interaction with PKIs, as these compounds may be both substrates and/or inhibitors of an ABC transporter. We propose that these interactions should be carefully considered in clinical application, and a combined MDR-ABC transporter and PKI effect may bring a major advantage in future drug development.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / drug effects*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • DNA Damage
  • Drug Design
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / enzymology
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / antagonists & inhibitors


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases