A new type of hazardous chemical: the chemosensitizers of multixenobiotic resistance

Environ Health Perspect. 1997 Jun;105 Suppl 4(Suppl 4):855-60. doi: 10.1289/ehp.97105s4855.


The purpose of this overview is to introduce the property of a new class of hazardous chemicals-the inhibitors of multixenobiotic resistance (MXR) in aquatic organisms, referred to as chemosensitizers. Aquatic organisms possess MXR, a mechanism similar to the well-known P-glycoprotein extrusion pump in multidrug resistant (MDR) tumor cells. MXR in aquatic organism moves from cells and organisms both endogenous chemicals and xenobiotics, including also some man-made chemicals. MXR in aquatic organisms represents a general biological first-line defense mechanism for protection against environmental toxins. Many chemical agents, the chemosensitizers, may after the function of this fragile mechanism. It is this new, MXR-inhibiting property, unrecognized as yet, that classifies these chemicals among top-rank hazardous water pollutants. The knowledge that the presence of one xenobiotic may block the pumping out of other xenobiotic(s), and hence accelerate their accumulation, may have important implications on environmental parameters like exposure, uptake, bioaccumulation, and toxicity. In this overview we present the evidence for the expression of MXR-phenotype in aquatic organisms, the demonstration of toxic consequences caused by MXR inhibitors, and the description of methods for measurement of concentration of MXR inhibitors in environmental samples.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple
  • Ecosystem*
  • Hazardous Substances / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Xenobiotics / toxicity*


  • Hazardous Substances
  • Xenobiotics