Circumvention of multi-drug resistance of cancer cells by Chinese herbal medicines

Chin Med. 2010 Jul 25:5:26. doi: 10.1186/1749-8546-5-26.


Multi-drug resistance (MDR) of cancer cells severely limits therapeutic outcomes. A proposed mechanism for MDR involves the efflux of anti-cancer drugs from cancer cells, primarily mediated by ATP-binding cassette (ABC) membrane transporters including P-glycoprotein. This article reviews the recent progress of using active ingredients, extracts and formulae from Chinese medicine (CM) in circumventing ABC transporters-mediated MDR. Among the ABC transporters, Pgp is the most extensively studied for its role in MDR reversal effects. While other MDR reversal mechanisms remain unclear, Pgp inhibition is a criterion for further mechanistic study. More mechanistic studies are needed to fully establish the pharmacological effects of potential MDR reversing agents.