Background: P-glycoproteins are membrane-associated transporters that can render cells resistant to a variety of chemotherapeutic drugs. Reversal agents are (preferably nontoxic) drugs that can inhibit these P-glycoproteins and thereby overcome multidrug resistance. PSC833, a cyclosporin A analog, is a reversal agent that has shown potential in in vitro experiments and in clinical trials. We tested PSC833 to determine whether it is a transported substrate of human and murine P-glycoproteins associated with multidrug resistance (encoded by the human MDR1 gene and its murine homolog, mdr1a) and whether it can completely inhibit these P-glycoproteins under simulated in vivo conditions.
Methods: Monolayers of polarized LLC-PK1 pig kidney cells transfected with complementary DNA containing either MDR1 or mdr1a sequences were used to measure the directional transport of P-glycoprotein substrates under various serum conditions.
Results: In contrast to two previous studies, we found that PSC833 is transported by both the MDR1 and the mdr1a P-glycoproteins, albeit at a low rate. PSC833 has a very high affinity for the MDR1 P-glycoprotein, and its Michaelis constant (Km) for transport is 50 nM, fourfold lower than for cyclosporin A. Inhibition of drug transport by PSC833 is approximately eightfold less effective in 100% fetal bovine serum than in tissue culture medium containing 10% serum. The concentration of PSC833 necessary to fully inhibit transport of digoxin and paclitaxel (Taxol) under complete (i.e., 100%) serum conditions is higher than the plasma concentrations achieved in clinical trials.
Conclusions: Although PSC833 binds efficiently to the MDR1 P-glycoprotein and is released only sluggishly, the high concentrations of PSC833 necessary to inhibit this P-glycoprotein under complete serum conditions in our in vitro system suggest that it may be difficult for PSC833 alone to produce total inhibition of P-glycoprotein activity in patients.