Chemosensitizing effect and mechanism of imperatorin on the anti-tumor activity of doxorubicin in tumor cells and transplantation tumor model

Korean J Physiol Pharmacol. 2022 May 1;26(3):145-155. doi: 10.4196/kjpp.2022.26.3.145.


Multidrug resistance of tumors has been a severe obstacle to the success of cancer chemotherapy. The study wants to investigate the reversal effects of imperatorin (IMP) on doxorubicin (DOX) resistance in K562/DOX leukemia cells, A2780/Taxol cells and in NOD/SCID mice, to explore the possible molecular mechanisms. K562/DOX and A2780/Taxol cells were treated with various concentrations of DOX and Taol with or without different concentrations of IMP, respectively. K562/DOX xenograft model was used to assess anti-tumor effect of IMP combined with DOX. MTT assay, Rhodamine 123 efflux assay, RT-PCR, and Western blot analysis were determined in vivo and in vitro. Results showed that IMP significantly enhanced the cytotoxicity of DOX and Taxol toward corresponding resistance cells. In vivo results illustrated both the tumor volume and tumor weight were significantly decreased after 2-week treatment with IMP combined with DOX compared to the DOX alone group. Western blotting and RT-PCR analyses indicated that IMP downregulated the expression of P-gp in K562/DOX xenograft tumors in NOD/SCID mice. We also evaluated glycolysis and glutamine metabolism in K562/DOX cells by measuring glucose consumption and lactate production. The results revealed that IMP could significantly reduce the glucose consumption and lactate production of K562/DOX cells. Furthermore, IMP could also remarkably repress the glutamine consumption, α-KG and ATP production of K562/DOX cells. Thus, IMP may sensitize K562/DOX cells to DOX and enhance the anti-tumor effect of DOX in K562/DOX xenograft tumors in NOD/SCID mice. IMP may be an adjuvant therapy to mitigate the multidrug resistance in leukemia chemotherapy.

Keywords: Doxorubicin; Imperatorin; Leukemia; Multidrug resistance; P-glycoprotein.