p53 and P-glycoprotein are often co-expressed and are associated with poor prognosis in breast cancer

Br J Cancer. 1996 Jul;74(1):63-8. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1996.316.


Expression of both P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and mutant p53 have recently been reported to be associated with poor prognosis of breast cancer. The expression of P-gp is associated in vitro and in vivo with cross-resistance to several anti-cancer drugs. p53 plays a regulatory role in apoptosis, and mutant p53 has been suggested to be involved in drug resistance. Interestingly, in vitro experiments have shown that mutant p53 can activate the promoter of the MDR1 gene, which encodes P-gp. We investigated whether p53 and P-gp are simultaneously expressed in primary breast cancer cells and analysed the impact of the co-expression on patients prognosis. Immunohistochemistry was used to investigate P-gp expression (JSB-1, C219) and nuclear p53 accumulation (DO-7) in 20 operable chemotherapy untreated and 30 locally advanced breast cancers undergoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy with doxorubicin and cyclophosphamide. Double immunostaining showed that P-gp expression and nuclear p53 accumulation often occur concomitantly in the same tumour cells. A correlation between p53 and P-gp expression was found in all 50 breast cancers (P = 0.003; Fisher's exact test). P-gp expression, nuclear p53 accumulation, and co-expression of p53 and P-gp were more frequently observed in locally advanced breast cancers than in operable breast cancers (P = 0.0004, P = 0.048; P = 0.002 respectively. Fisher's exact test). Co-expression of p53 and P-gp was the strongest prognostic factor for shorter survival by multivariate analysis (P = 0.004) in the group of locally advanced breast cancers (univariate analysis: P = 0.0007). Only 3 out of 13 samples sequentially taken before and after chemotherapy displayed a change in P-gp or p53 staining. In conclusion, nuclear p53 accumulation is often associated with P-gp expression in primary breast cancer, and simultaneous expression of p53 and P-gp is associated with shorter survival in locally advanced breast cancer patients. Co-expression of P-gp and mutant p53 belong to a series of molecular events resulting in a more aggressive phenotype, drug resistance and poor prognosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / metabolism
  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / physiology*
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / therapeutic use
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / mortality
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple / physiology*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Prognosis
  • Survival Analysis
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / physiology*


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53