Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, and resistance to the current therapeutics, often concurrently, is an increasing clinical challenge. By understanding the molecular mechanisms behind multidrug-resistant breast cancer, new treatments may be developed. Here we review the recent advances in this understanding, emphasizing the common mechanisms underlying resistance to both targeted therapies, notably tamoxifen and trastuzumab, and traditional chemotherapies. We focus primarily on three molecular mechanisms, the phosphatidylinositide 3-kinase/Akt pathway, the role of microRNAs in gene silencing, and epigenetic alterations affecting gene expression, and discuss how these mechanisms can interact in multidrug resistance. The development of therapeutics targeting these mechanisms is also addressed.
Keywords: ER; HER2; PI3K/Akt; epigenetics; miRNA; triple negative.