Examination of multidrug resistance in cell lines and primary breast tumours by flow cytometry

Eur J Cancer. 1996 Dec;32A(13):2334-41. doi: 10.1016/s0959-8049(96)00344-9.


The aim of this study was to measure multidrug resistance (MDR) by flow cytometry and quantify the expression of P-glycoprotein (using antibody) glutathione transferase (using alpha-GSTpi antibody) in alpha-JSB-1 and alpha-GSTpi of a series of cell lines and primary breast cancers, and to assess the relationship between these MDR proteins and a selection of oncogene and prognostic markers in breast cancer. Flow cytometry was performed using permeabilised cells stained with fluorescent antibodies using well-established methods. Antibody staining was confirmed for JSB1, but not GSTpi by use of known positive and negative controls. No correlation was seen when comparing the number of molecules of alpha-JSB-1 with alpha-GSTpi (P = 0.1, r2 = 0.4, n = 14) using a selection of cell lines. Examination of 45 breast tumours for expression of JSB-1 and GSTpi revealed a significant association between these two antibodies (P < 0.00001, r2 = 0.5, n = 45). On examining the breast tumours, alpha-JSB-1 showed a positive association with c-erbB-2 (P = 0.003), c-myc (P = 0.0004) and c-jun (P = 0.02) but not ER or EGF-R expression. alpha-GSTpi showed a positive association with c-erbB-2 (P = 0.03) and c-myc (P = 0.0004) but not ER, EGF-R or c-jun. Flow cytometric MDR levels were not related to tumour grade or axillary node status. In solid tumours, a relationship between the two antibodies used has been clearly demonstrated, however, specificity of alpha-GSTpi is questioned. Both antibodies show an association with c-erbB-2, which is associated with poor prognosis and with c-myc which is involved in cell cycling and differentiation. Monitoring MDR markers (Pgp) using this methodology may be useful for evaluation of prognosis in breast cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / metabolism
  • Axilla
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Female
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Genes, MDR
  • Glutathione Transferase / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Prognosis
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured / metabolism


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Glutathione Transferase