Interaction of phenothiazines, stilbenes and flavonoids with multidrug resistance-associated transporters, P-glycoprotein and MRP1.

  • Olga Wesołowska Department of Biophysics, Wrocław Medical University, Wrocław, Poland.;


Multidrug resistance (MDR) of cancer cells poses a serious obstacle to successful chemotherapy. The overexpression of multispecific ATP-binding cassette transporters appears to be the main mechanism of MDR. A search for MDR-reversing agents able to sensitize resistant cells to chemotherapy is ongoing in the hope of their possible clinical use. Studies of MDR modulators, although they have not produced clinically beneficial effects yet, may greatly enrich our knowledge about MDR transporters, their specificity and mechanism of action, especially substrate and/or inhibitor recognition. In the present review, interactions of three groups of modulators: phenothiazines, flavonoids and stilbenes with both P-glycoprotein and MRP1 are discussed. Each group of compounds is likely to interact with the MDR transporters by a different mechanism. Phenothiazines probably interact with drug binding sites, but they also could indirectly affect the transporter's activity by perturbing lipid bilayers. Flavonoids mainly interact with ABC proteins within their nucleotide-binding domains, though the more hydrophobic flavonoids may bind to regions within transmembrane domains. The possible mechanism of MDR reversal by stilbenes may result from their direct interaction with the transporter (possibly within substrate recognition sites) but some indirect effects such as stilbene-induced changes in gene expression pattern and in apoptotic pathways should also be considered. Literature data as well as some of our recent results are discussed. Special emphasis is put on cases when the interactions of a given compound with both P-glycoprotein and MRP1 have been studied simultaneously.