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Neuroscience. 2003;121(3):605-17.

Relationship between expression of multiple drug resistance proteins and p53 tumor suppressor gene proteins in human brain astrocytes.

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  • 1Division of Cerebrovascular Research, Department of Neurological Surgery, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA.


Multiple drug resistance occurs when cells fail to respond to chemotherapy. Although it has been established that the drug efflux protein P-glycoprotein protects the brain from xenobiotics, the mechanisms involved in the regulation of expression of multiple drug resistance genes and proteins are not fully understood. Re-entry into the cell cycle and integrity of the p53 signaling pathway have been proposed as triggers of multiple drug resistance expression in tumor cells. Whether this regulation occurs in non-tumor CNS tissue is not known. Since multiple drug resistance overexpression has been reported in glia and blood vessels from epileptic brain, we investigated the level of expression of multidrug resistance protein, multidrug resistance-associated proteins and lung resistance protein in endothelial cells and astrocytes isolated from epileptic patients or studied in situ in surgical tissue samples by double label immunocytochemistry. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and Western blot analyses revealed that multiple drug resistance, multidrug resistance protein, and lung resistance protein are expressed in these cells. Given that lung resistance proteins have been reported to be preferentially expressed by tumors, we investigated expression of tumor suppressor genes in epileptic cortices. The pro-apoptotic proteins p53 and p21 could not be detected in "epileptic" astrocytes, while endothelial cells from the same samples readily expressed these proteins, as did normal brain astroglia and normal endothelial cells. Other apoptotic markers were also absent in epileptic glia. Our results suggest a possible link between loss of p53 function and expression of multiple drug resistance in non-tumor CNS cells.

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