Induction of the multixenobiotic/multidrug resistance system in HeLa cells in response to imidazolium ionic liquids.

  • Izabela Rusiecka Intercollegiate Faculty of Biotechnology UG-MUG, Medical University of Gdańsk, Gdańsk, Poland.;
  • Andrzej C Składanowski


The multixenobiotic/multidrug resistance (MXR/MDR) system controls transport of foreign molecules across the plasma membrane as a preventive measure before toxicity becomes apparent. The system consists of an efflux pump, ABCB1, and/or a member of the ABCC family. Ionic liquids are broadly used solvents with several unique properties such as wide liquid range, negligible vapor pressure, good thermal and chemical stability and extraordinary dissolution properties for organic and inorganic compounds. Ionic liquids containing imidazolium ring are frequently used as solvents in drug synthesis. Constitutive and induced amounts of ABCB1 and ABCC1 proteins were estimated here by Western blotting and quantified by flow cytometry in HeLa cells exposed to three homologous 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium and one benzyl ring substituted salts. Aliphatic substituents in position 1 of the salts caused a weak toxicity but 1-benzyl ring was strongly toxic. An 8-day long treatment with 10(-4) M 1-hexyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride resulted in an about 1.5-fold increase of ABCB1 level and over 2-fold increase of ABCC1 level. The amounts of both investigated ABC-proteins were linearly dependent on the length of the imidazolium ring side chain. Such distinctive changes of the amount of MXR/MDR proteins measured in cultured cells may be a useful marker when screening for potential toxicity of various chemicals.