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World J Surg Oncol. 2005 Sep 14;3:61.

Role of p-glycoprotein expression in predicting response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in breast cancer--a prospective clinical study.

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Department of Surgery, Vardhman Mahavir Medical College, Safdarjang Hospital, New Delhi-110023, India.



Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NACT) is an integral part of multi-modality approach in the management of locally advanced breast cancer. It is vital to predict response to chemotherapy in order to tailor the regime for a particular patient. The prediction would help in avoiding the toxicity induced by an ineffective chemotherapeutic regime in a non-responder and would also help in the planning of an alternate regime. Development of resistance to chemotherapeutic agents is a major problem and one of the mechanisms considered responsible is the expression of 170-k Da membrane glycoprotein (usually referred to as p-170 or p-glycoprotein), which is encoded by multidrug resistance (MDR1) gene. This glycoprotein acts as an energy dependent pump, which actively extrudes certain families of chemotherapeutic agents from the cells. The expression of p-glycoprotein at initial presentation has been found to be associated with refractoriness to chemotherapy and a poor outcome. Against this background a prospective study was conducted using C219 mouse monoclonal antibody specific for p-glycoprotein to ascertain whether pretreatment detection of p-glycoprotein expression could be utilized as a reliable predictor of response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy in patients with breast cancer.


Fifty cases of locally advanced breast cancer were subjected to trucut biopsy and the tissue samples were evaluated immunohistochemically for p-glycoprotein expression and ER, PR status. The response to neoadjuvant chemotherapy was assessed clinically and by using ultrasound after three cycles of FAC regime (cyclophosphamide 600 mg/m2, Adriamycin 50 mg/m2, 5-fluorourail 600 mg/m2 at an interval of three weeks). The clinical response was correlated with both the pre and post chemotherapy p-glycoprotein expression. Descriptive studies were performed with SPSS version 10. The significance of correlation between tumor response and p-glycoprotein expression was determined with chi square test.


A significant relationship was found between the pretreatment p-glycoprotein expression and clinical response. The positive p-glycoprotein expression was associated with poor clinical response rates. When the clinical response was correlated with p-glycoprotein expression, a statistically significant negative correlation was observed between the clinical response and p-glycoprotein expression (p < 0.05). There was another significant observation in terms of development of post NACT p-glycoprotein positivity. Before initiation of NACT, 26 patients (52%) were p-glycoprotein positive and after three cycles of NACT, the positivity increased to 73.5% patients.


The study concluded that pretreatment p-glycoprotein expression predicts and indicates a poor clinical response to NACT. Patients with positive p-glycoprotein expression before initiation of NACT were found to be poor responders. Thus pretreatment detection of p-glycoprotein expression may be utilized, as a reliable predictor of response to NACT in patients with breast cancer The chemotherapy induced p-glycoprotein positivity observed in the study could possibly explain the phenomenon of acquired chemoresistance and may also serve as an intermediate end point in evaluating drug response particularly if the adjuvant therapy is planned with the same regime.

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