C-Phycocyanin: Cellular targets, mechanisms of action and multi drug resistance in cancer

Pharmacol Rep. 2018 Feb;70(1):75-80. doi: 10.1016/j.pharep.2017.07.018. Epub 2017 Jul 26.


C-Phycocyanin (C-PC) has been shown to be promising in cancer treatment; however, although several articles detailing this have been published, its main mechanisms of action and its cellular targets have not yet been defined, nor has a detailed exploration been conducted of its role in the resistance of cancer cells to chemotherapy, rendering clinical use impossible. From our extensive examination of the literature, we have determined as our main hypothesis that C-PC has no one specific target, but rather acts on the membrane, cytoplasm, and nucleus with diverse mechanisms of action. We highlight the cell targets with which C-PC interacts (the MDR1 gene, cytoskeleton proteins, and COX-2 enzyme) that make it capable of killing cells resistant to chemotherapy. We also propose future analyses of the interaction between C-PC and drug extrusion proteins, such as ABCB1 and ABCC1, using in silico and in vitro studies.

Keywords: ABCB1; ABCC1; Antiproliferative; Antitumoral; Apoptosis; Prevention of metastasis; Tumor specificity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cyclooxygenase 2 / metabolism
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Humans
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phycocyanin / adverse effects
  • Phycocyanin / therapeutic use*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • ABCB1 protein, human
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • Phycocyanin
  • Cyclooxygenase 2
  • PTGS2 protein, human
  • multidrug resistance-associated protein 1