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Cancer Lett. 2000 Feb 28;149(1-2):143-51.

SDZ PSC 833 the drug resistance modulator activates cellular ceramide formation by a pathway independent of P-glycoprotein.

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  • 1John Wayne Cancer Institute, Breast Cancer Research Program, Santa Monica, CA 90404, USA.


SDZ PSC 833 (PSC 833) is a new multidrug resistance modulator. Recent studies have shown that the principal mechanism of action of PSC 833 is to bind P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and prevent cellular efflux of chemotherapeutic drugs. We previously reported that PSC 833 increases cellular ceramide levels. The present study was conducted to determine whether the impact of PSC 833 on ceramide generation is dependent on P-gp. Work was carried out using the drug-sensitive P-gp-deficient human breast adenocarcinoma cell line, MCF-7, and drug resistant MCF-7/MDR1 clone 10.3 cells (MCF-7/MDR1), which show a stable MDR1 P-gp phenotype. Overexpression of P-gp in MCF-7/MDR1 cells did not increase the levels of glucosylceramide, a characteristic which has been associated with multidrug resistant cells. Treatment of MCF-7 and MCF-7/MDR1 cells with PSC 833 caused similar ceramide elevation, in a dose-responsive manner. At 5.0 microM, PSC 833 increased ceramide levels 4- to 5-fold. The increase in ceramide levels correlated with a decrease in survival in both cell lines. The EC50 (concentration of drug that kills 50% of cells) for PSC 833 in MCF-7 and MCF-7/MDR1 cells was 7.2 +/- 0.6 and 11.0 +/- 1.0 microM, respectively. C6-Ceramide exposure diminished survival of MCF-7 cells; whereas, MCF-7/MDR1 cells were resistant to this short chain ceramide analog. Preincubation of cells with cyclosporine A, which has high affinity for P-gp, did not diminish the levels of ceramide generated upon exposure to PSC 833. These results demonstrate that PSC 833-induced cellular ceramide formation occurs independently of P-gp. As such, these data indicate that reversal of drug resistance by classical P-gp blockers may be modulated by factors unrelated to drug efflux parameters.

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