Multidrug resistance and its reversal

Anticancer Res. Jul-Aug 1998;18(4C):2905-17.


Cross-resistance between different cytostatic agents which are structurally and functionally dissimilar is a common phenomenon called multidrug resistance (MDR). The best characterized mechanism of MDR involves P-glycoprotein. However, this does not completely explain MDR. Within the last few years, two new genes that can confer MDR have been identified (MRP and LRP). Furthermore, topoisomerase II has been associated with a special form of MDR. During the past several years, considerable interest has been shown in strategies to reverse MDR by using pharmacological compounds, monoclonal antibodies, immunotoxins, bispecific antibodies, antisense oligodeoxynucleotides, ribozymes, and albumin-conjugated drugs in in vitro and in vivo assays. All these experimental assays demonstrated that MDR can be circumvented. Two agents that have received the most attention in the clinic are verapamil and cyclosporin A. Despite some promising results (especially in hematological malignancies), the results obtained in the treatment of solid tumors with modulators have so far been quite disappointing. This may be explained by the fact that the MDR phenotype alone does not completely account for the resistance of human cancer. Several other resistance-related proteins (e.g., glutathione S-transferase, metallothionein, O6-alkylguanine-DNA-alkyltransferase, thymidylate synthase, dihydrofolate reductase, heat shock proteins) can be also expressed in resistant tumors. Additionally, cell proliferation, vascularization and apoptosis are involved in resistance.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Resistance, Multiple*
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy