Mechanism of cell adaptation: when and how do cancer cells develop chemoresistance?

Cancer J. Mar-Apr 2011;17(2):89-95. doi: 10.1097/PPO.0b013e318212dd3d.


Chemotherapy treatments are considered essential tools to defeat cancer progression and dissemination to improve patients' quality of life and survival. Although most malignancies initially respond to chemotherapeutic treatments, after an unpredictable period, tumor cells develop mechanisms of resistance to the treatment. Different cell compartments are involved in the mechanism of chemoresistance, and multiple mechanisms can be activated by single cells at different times of the cancer progression. Alteration of drug metabolism, derangement of intracellular pathways' signaling, cross-talk between different membrane receptors, and modification of apoptotic signaling and interference with cell replication are all mechanisms that the cell uses to overcome the effect of pharmacological compounds.In this review, we describe different adaptation, mostly at the level of the proteome, which cancer cells use to develop resistance to cancer treatment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological* / drug effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Space / drug effects
  • Intracellular Space / genetics
  • Intracellular Space / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects


  • Antineoplastic Agents