Expression and localization of p-glycoprotein, multidrug resistance protein 4, and breast cancer resistance protein in the female lower genital tract of human and pigtailed macaque

AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2014 Nov;30(11):1106-16. doi: 10.1089/AID.2013.0281. Epub 2014 Jun 12.


Antiretroviral drug absorption and disposition in cervicovaginal tissue is important for the effectiveness of vaginally or orally administered drug products in preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP) of HIV-1 sexual transmission to women. Therefore, it is imperative to understand critical determinants of cervicovaginal tissue pharmacokinetics. This study aimed to examine the mRNA expression and protein localization of three efflux transporters, P-glycoprotein (P-gp), multidrug resistance-associated protein 4 (MRP4), and breast cancer resistance protein (BCRP), in the lower genital tract of premenopausal women and pigtailed macaques. Along the human lower genital tract, the three transporters were moderately to highly expressed compared to colorectal tissue and liver, as revealed by real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). In a given genital tract segment, the transporter with the highest expression level was either BCRP or P-gp, while MRP4 was always expressed at the lowest level among the three transporters tested. The immunohistochemical staining showed that P-gp and MRP4 were localized in multiple cell types including epithelial cells and vascular endothelial cells. BCRP was predominantly localized in the vascular endothelial cells. Differences in transporter mRNA level and localization were observed among endocervix, ectocervix, and vagina. Compared to human tissues, the macaque cervicovaginal tissues displayed comparable expression and localization patterns of the three transporters, although subtle differences were observed between the two species. The role of these cervicovaginal transporters in drug absorption and disposition warrants further studies. The resemblance between human and pigtailed macaque in transporter expression and localization suggests the utility of the macaque model in the studies of human cervicovaginal transporters.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / biosynthesis*
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / genetics
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / biosynthesis*
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / genetics
  • Animals
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Genitalia, Female*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Macaca nemestrina
  • Microscopy
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis / methods
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger