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Cancer Chemother Pharmacol. 2005 Feb;55(2):179-88. Epub 2004 Sep 16.

Reversal of multidrug resistance of cancer through inhibition of P-glycoprotein by 5-bromotetrandrine.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.



The present study aimed to evaluate the MDR reversal activity of bromotetrandrine (BrTet), a bromized derivative of tetrandrine (Tet), in vitro and in vivo.


Drug sensitivity was determined using the MTT assay. The in vivo effect of Tet was investigated using nude mice grafted with sensitive and resistant KB human epidermoid cancer cells. Doxorubicin (Dox) accumulation was analyzed by fluorospectrophotometry and the protein and mRNA levels of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) were determined by immunocytochemistry and RT-PCR, respectively.


BrTet at 0.25, 0.5 and 1 micro M reversed Dox resistance in MDR human breast cancer MCF-7/Dox cells dose-dependently and its potency was greater than that of Tet at the same concentrations. BrTet reversed vincristine (VCR), Dox and paclitaxel resistance in MDR human oral epidermoid carcinoma KBv200 cells as well as innate VCR and Dox resistance in human hepatocellular carcinoma Bel(7402) cells. However, BrTet showed no effect on the IC(50) values of the above-mentioned anticancer drugs in sensitive MCF-7 and KB cells. No reversal effect of BrTet on the cytotoxicity of 5-fluorouracil and cisplatin, non-P-gp substrates, was observed. In nude mice bearing KBv200 xenografts on the left flank and KB xenografts on the right flank, i.p. injection of 5 mg/kg and 10 mg/kg BrTet significantly enhanced the antitumor activity of Dox against KBv200 xenografts with inhibitory rates of 33.0% and 39.2%, while Dox alone inhibited the growth of KBv200 xenografts by only 11.6%. No enhancement by BrTet was seen in KB xenografts. Moreover, BrTet at 5 mg/kg reversed paclitaxel resistance in KBv200 xenografts. Fluorospectrophotometric assay showed that BrTet significantly increased the intracellular accumulation of Dox in MCF-7/Dox cells in a dose-dependent manner. BrTet also inhibited the overexpression of P-gp in MCF-7/Dox cells, but had no effect on mdr1 expression.


BrTet showed significant MDR reversal activity in vitro and in vivo. Its activity may be related to the inhibition of P-gp overexpression and the increase in intracellular accumulation of anticancer drugs. BrTet may be a promising MDR modulator for eventual assessment in the clinic.

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