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Trends Pharmacol Sci. 2006 Jan;27(1):10-6. Epub 2005 Dec 6.

The function of breast cancer resistance protein in epithelial barriers, stem cells and milk secretion of drugs and xenotoxins.

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Division of Experimental Therapy, The Netherlands Cancer Institute, 1066 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The breast cancer resistance protein [BCRP (also known as ABCG2)] belongs to the ATP binding cassette (ABC) family of transmembrane drug transporters. BCRP has a broad substrate specificity and actively extrudes a wide variety of drugs, carcinogens and dietary toxins from cells. Situated in the apical plasma membrane of epithelial cells of the small and large intestine and renal proximal tubules and in the bile canalicular membrane of hepatocytes, BCRP decreases the oral availability and systemic exposure of its substrates. In several blood-tissue barriers BCRP reduces tissue penetration of its substrates and it protects haematopoietic stem cells from cytotoxic substrates. Moreover, BCRP is expressed in mammary gland alveolar epithelial cells during pregnancy and lactation, where it actively secretes a variety of drugs, toxins and carcinogens into milk. In apparent contradiction with the detoxifying role of BCRP in mothers, this contamination of milk exposes suckling infants and dairy consumers to xenotoxins. BCRP thus affects many important aspects of pharmacology and toxicology.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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