Expression and induction by dexamethasone of ABC transporters and nuclear receptors in a human T-lymphocyte cell line

J Chemother. 2012 Feb;24(1):48-55. doi: 10.1179/1120009X12Z.00000000010.


The efficacy of drugs acting within lymphocytes, like antiretroviral drugs in the treatment of HIV infection, depends on their intracellular concentrations modulated by efflux proteins like ABCB1 (P-glycoprotein). In lymphocytes, two glucocorticoids, prednisone and prednisolone, have been shown to induce ABCB1 activity. Yet, no data exist regarding dexamethasone (DEX). We report the modulation of ABC transporters and nuclear receptors' expression by DEX in a commonly used model of human lymphocytes. CCRF-CEM cells were exposed to DEX (100 nM, 2 μM) for 24 to 72 hours. ABCB1 activity was measured using DiOC(6) efflux in flow cytometry. Gene expression levels were quantified by qRT-PCR. ABCB1 activity and mRNA expression increased with DEX concentrations and incubation times. DEX (1 μM, 24 h) increased significantly ABCB1 and GR mRNA expression levels by around 8- and 3.5-fold, respectively (P<10(-6)). ABCB1 induction by DEX in CCRF-CEM cells suggests a potential risk of interaction in lymphocytes when associating DEX to ABCB1 substrates in antiretroviral multitherapies in vivo.

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / metabolism*
  • Dexamethasone / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Glucocorticoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Precursor T-Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / pathology*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / metabolism*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Glucocorticoids
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Dexamethasone