The role of UDP-glucuronosyltransferases and drug transporters in breast cancer drug resistance

Exp Oncol. 2010 Sep;32(3):172-80.


One of the major limitations of chemotherapy is that often, over time, tumor cells become either inherently resistant or develop multidrug resistance to the treatment. Another limitation of chemotherapy is toxicity to normal tissues and adverse side effects. The reasons for the failure of some cancers to respond to chemotherapeutic drugs are not clear but have been attributed to alterations in many molecular pathways, which include drug metabolizing enzymes and drug transporter genes. Alterations in the energy-dependent ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter genes have been suggested to confer a drug-resistant phenotype by decreasing the intracellular accumulation of chemotherapeutic drugs via efflux mechanisms. In addition, polymorphisms in UDP-glucuronosyltransferases (UGTs) have been reported to correlate with clinical outcome and drug resistance. In this review, we provide an overview of known polymorphisms within UGTs and ABC transporter genes that have been reported to have altered expression and/or activity in breast cancer. Those polymorphic variants that affect the clinical efficacy and confer drug resistance of chemotherapeutic agents, including hormonal therapies, taxanes, anthracyclines, and alkylating agents, in breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Female
  • Glucuronosyltransferase / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Glucuronosyltransferase