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J Hepatol. 2007 Feb;46(2):222-9. Epub 2006 Oct 6.

Tannic acid synergizes the cytotoxicity of chemotherapeutic drugs in human cholangiocarcinoma by modulating drug efflux pathways.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Scott and White Clinic, Texas A&M University System Health Science Center, College of Medicine Temple, TX 76508, USA.



Tannic acid is an orally active plant polyphenol with potential for use as an anti-cancer agent for cholangiocarcinoma. To determine the potential use of tannic acid as an adjunct therapy, we sought to evaluate the interaction between tannic acid and chemotherapeutic agents.


Cytotoxicity was assessed in malignant human cholangiocytes. Interactions between tannic acid, mitomycin C, 5-fluorouracil and gemcitabine were quantitated by calculating the combination index and dose reduction index. Cellular efflux pathways were assessed by calcein retention assays, and expression of membrane pumps was assessed by Western blots and real-time PCR.


Tannic acid and the three agents decreased growth of malignant cholangiocytes to a similar extent. Tannic acid had a synergistic effect to mitomycin C and 5-fluorouracil, but not gemcitabine. However, the structurally related polyphenol gallic acid did not have a synergistic interaction with any of the agents. Tannic acid decreased calcein efflux and the expression of PGP, MRP1 and MRP2 membrane efflux pumps.


Tannic acid has a synergistic effect with selected chemotherapeutic drugs by a mechanism involving modulation of drug efflux pathways. Thus, tannic acid will be a useful adjunct to improve the effectiveness of chemotherapeutic agents in the treatment of cholangiocarcinoma.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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