Abstract Title:

Carotenoids reverse multidrug resistance in cancer cells by interfering with ABC-transporters.

Abstract Source:

Phytomedicine. 2012 Aug 15 ;19(11):977-87. Epub 2012 Jul 4. PMID: 22770743

Abstract Author(s):

Safaa Yehia Eid, Mahmoud Zaki El-Readi, Michael Wink

Article Affiliation:

Safaa Yehia Eid


Proteins of the ATP-binding cassette superfamily, mainly P-glycoprotein (P-gp; MDR1), play an important role in the development of multidrug resistance (MDR) in cancer cells and thus in the potential failure of chemotherapy. A selection of carotenoids (β-carotene, crocin, retinoic acid, canthaxanthin, and fucoxanthin) was investigated whether they are substrates of P-gp, and if they can reverse MDR in resistant Caco-2 and CEM/ADR5000 cells as compared to the sensitive parent cell line CCRF-CEM. The activity of ABC transporter was determined in resistant and sensitive cells by spectrofluorometry and flow cytometry using the substrates doxorubicin, rhodamine 123, and calcein as fluorescent probes. The carotenoids increased accumulation of these P-gp substrates in a dose-dependent manner indicating that they themselves also function as substrates. Fucoxanthin and canthaxanthin (50-100 μM) produced a 3-5-fold higher retention of the fluorescent probes than the known competitive inhibitor verapamil. Carotenoids showed a low cytotoxicity in cells with MDR with IC(50) values between 100 and 200 μM. The combination of carotenoids with eightstructurally different cytotoxic agents synergistically enhanced their cytotoxicity in Caco-2 cells, probably by inhibiting the function of the ABC transporters. For example, fucoxanthin synergistically enhanced the cytotoxicity of 5-FU 53.37-fold, of vinblastine 51.01-fold, and of etoposide 12.47-fold. RT-PCR was applied to evaluate the mRNA levels of P-gp in Caco-2 cells after treatment with carotenoids. Fucoxanthin and canthaxanthin significantly decreased P-gp levels to 12% and 24%, respectively as compared to untreated control levels (p<0.001). This study implies that carotenoids may be utilised as chemosensitisers, especially as adjuvants in chemotherapy.

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