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Phytomedicine. 2010 Apr;17(5):356-62. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2010.01.001. Epub 2010 Feb 10.

(-)-Epigallocatechin-3-gallate downregulates Pg-P and BCRP in a tamoxifen resistant MCF-7 cell line.

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  • 1Department of Experimental Pathology, Via San Giacomo, 14, University of Bologna, 40126 Bologna, Italy.


We investigated the anticancer effect of EGCG treatment on a breast carcinoma cell line resistant to tamoxifen (MCF-7Tam cells). As there are no reports about the molecular mechanisms implicated in EGCG treatment of tamoxifen resistant breast carcinoma cells, we studied the effects of EGCG treatment on three plasma membrane proteins that are involved in the mechanism of drug-resistance: Multidrug Resistance Protein (MRP1), P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and Breast Cancer Resistance Protein (BCRP). EGCG treatment (10-100 microg/ml for 24-72 hours) caused cell growth inhibition and dose-dependent apoptosis: after 100 microg/ml EGCG treatment for 24 hours, Bax expression increased and Bcl2 expression decreased (p<0.05). Coherently, Annexin V-FITC apoptosis assay detected a significant increase in labelled cells (p<0.05). EGCG did not affect MRP1: in contrast, 100 microg/ml EGCG administration caused P-gp decrease to 53% of control cells (p<0.001) and this effect was not due to downregulation of P-gp gene expression. EGCG induced P-gp decrease even when MG132, a strong proteasome inhibitor, was given together with EGCG to MCF-7Tam cells. EGCG treatment also inhibited BCRP activity: mRNA transcription and protein level did not change after treatment, but mitoxantrone test demonstrated a strong inhibition of BCRP activity (p<0.001). In conclusion, the present results showed that EGCG could down-regulate the activity of two molecules that play a key role in drug metabolism and transport and that are highly expressed in tamoxifen resistant breast carcinoma cells. The interaction of EGCG and drugs used in the therapy of estrogen sensitive breast carcinoma ought to be subject of studies and the potential use of EGCG in drug-resistant diseases ought to be better considered.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

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