Inhibition of the multidrug resistance P-glycoprotein: Time for a change of strategy?

Richard Callaghan*, Frederick Luk, Mary Bebawy

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

    344 Citations (Scopus)


    P-glycoprotein (P-gp) is a key player in the multidrug-resistant phenotype in cancer. The protein confers resistance by mediating the ATP-dependent efflux of an astonishing array of anticancer drugs. Its broad specificity has been the subject of numerous attempts to inhibit the protein and restore the efficacy of anticancer drugs. The general strategy has been to develop compounds that either compete with anticancer drugs for transport or act as direct inhibitors of P-gp. Despite considerable in vitro success, there are no compounds currently available to "block" P-gp-mediated resistance in the clinic. The failure may be attributed to toxicity, adverse drug interaction, and numerous pharmacokinetic issues. This review provides a description of several alternative approaches to overcome the activity of P-gp in drug-resistant cells. These include 1) drugs that specifically target resistant cells, 2) novel nanotechnologies to provide high-dose, targeted delivery of anticancer drugs, 3) compounds that interfere with nongenomic transfer of resistance, and 4) approaches to reduce the expression of P-gp within tumors. Such approaches have been developed through the pursuit of greater understanding of resistance mediators such as P-gp, and they show considerable potential for further application.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)623-631
    Number of pages9
    JournalDrug Metabolism and Disposition
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


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