Characterization of the IPEC-J2 MDR1 (iP-gp) cell line as a tool for identification of P-gp substrates

Eur J Pharm Sci. 2018 Jan 15;112:112-121. doi: 10.1016/j.ejps.2017.11.007. Epub 2017 Nov 13.


Recently, we transfected the porcine intestinal cell line IPEC-J2, with human P-glycoprotein (P-gp, ABCB1). The resulting cell line, iP-gp, has a high expression of functional human P-gp in the apical membrane, and a low expression of nonhuman ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters. The aim of the present work was to investigate the usability of iP-gp cell line for determining transepithelial transport kinetics of the prototypical P-gp substrates digoxin and rhodamine 123. The cell line generated tight monolayers after 16days of culture, reflected by high transepithelial electrical resistance values (TEER>15,000Ω·cm2), immunocytochemistry and low fluxes of the paracellular flux marker [14C]-mannitol. Monolayer integrity was not affected the common solvents dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), methanol and ethanol in concentrations up to 2% (v/v). Transepithelial fluxes of [3H]-labeled digoxin and rhodamine 123 were measured at varying donor concentrations, and kinetic parameters were estimated. Km and Vmax of P-gp mediated basolateral-to-apical (B-A) flux of rhodamine 123 were estimated to 332±124μM and 111±16pmol·cm-2·min-1 (n=3, total N=6), respectively. Vmax and Km of digoxin B-A flux could not be estimated due to the low aqueous solubility of digoxin. The half maximal inhibitory concentrations (IC50) of the selective P-gp inhibitor, zosuquidar (LY-335979), were estimated to 0.05±0.01μM (n=3, total N=6) and 0.04±0.01μM (n=3, total N=6) in transport experiments with digoxin and rhodamine 123 as substrates, respectively. Bidirectional fluxes of digoxin and rhodamine 123 were measured in transfected Madin Darby canine kidney cells (MDCK II MDR1) and compared with the fluxes obtained with the iP-gp cell monolayers. Efflux ratios were highest in the iP-gp cells, due to a tighter paracellular pathway. In conclusion, both digoxin and rhodamine 123 could be used to obtain IC50 values of inhibition, Ki values were only possible to obtain using rhodamine 123. The observed tightness, robustness towards solvents and the high efflux ratios confirmed that the iP-gp cell line may serve as a useful screening tool for investigations of substrate-P-gp interactions and modulation of P-gp function.

Keywords: ABCB1; Digoxin; Efflux ratio; MDR1-P-gp inhibitor; Monolayer; P-glycoprotein; Rhodamine 123; Zosuquidar.

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B / genetics
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Line
  • Digoxin / metabolism*
  • Dogs
  • Madin Darby Canine Kidney Cells
  • Rhodamine 123 / metabolism*
  • Swine


  • ABCB1 protein, human
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B
  • Rhodamine 123
  • Digoxin