The expression of P-glycoprotein does influence the distribution of novel fluorescent compounds in solid tumour models

C. Martin, J. Walker, A. Rothnie, R. Callaghan

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Solid tumours display a complex drug resistance phenotype that involves inherent and acquired mechanisms. Multicellular resistance is an inherent feature of solid tumours and is known to present significant barriers to drug permeation in tumours. Given this barrier, do acquired resistance mechanisms such as P-glycoprotein (P-gp) contribute significantly to resistance? To address this question, the multicellular tumour spheroid (MCTS) model was used to examine the influence of P-gp on drug distribution in solid tissue. Tumour spheroids (TS) were generated from either drug-sensitive MCF7WT cells or a drug-resistant, P-gp-expressing derivative MCF7Adr. Confocal microscopy was used to measure time courses and distribution patterns of three fluorescent compounds; calcein-AM, rhodamine123 and BODIPY-taxol. These compounds were chosen because they are all substrates for P-gp-mediated transport, exhibit high fluorescence and are chemically dissimilar. For example, BODIPY-taxol and rhodamine 123 showed high accumulation and distributed extensively throughout the TSWT, whereas calcein-AM accumulation was restricted to the outermost layers. The presence of P-gp in TSAdr resulted in negligible accumulation, regardless of the compound. Moreover, the inhibition of P-gp by nicardipine restored intracellular accumulation and distribution patterns to levels observed in TSWT. The results demonstrate the effectiveness of P-gp in modulating drug distribution in solid tumour models. However, the penetration of agents throughout the tissue is strongly determined by the physico-chemical properties of the individual compounds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1581-1589
Number of pages9
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2003

Bibliographical note

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  • antineoplastic agents
  • multiple drug resistance
  • fluoresceins
  • fluorescent dyes
  • humans
  • confocal microscopy
  • P-glycoprotein
  • paclitaxel
  • rhodamine 123
  • cellular spheroids
  • tumor models


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