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J Biol Chem. 2006 Aug 18;281(33):23725-32. Epub 2006 Jun 12.

A strong glutathione S-transferase inhibitor overcomes the P-glycoprotein-mediated resistance in tumor cells. 6-(7-Nitro-2,1,3-benzoxadiazol-4-ylthio)hexanol (NBDHEX) triggers a caspase-dependent apoptosis in MDR1-expressing leukemia cells.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Sciences and Technologies, University of Rome Tor Vergata, 00133 Rome, Italy.


The new glutathione S-transferase inhibitor 6-(7-nitro-2,1,3-benzoxadiazol-4-ylthio)hexanol (NBDHEX) is cytotoxic toward P-glycoprotein-overexpressing tumor cell lines, i.e. CEM-VBL10, CEM-VBL100, and U-2 OS/DX580. The mechanism of cell death triggered by NBDHEX has been deeply investigated in leukemia cell lines. Kinetic data indicate a similar NBDHEX membrane permeability between multidrug resistance cells and their sensitive counterpart revealing that NBDHEX is not a substrate of the P-glycoprotein export pump. Unexpectedly, this molecule promotes a caspase-dependent apoptosis that is unusual in the P-glycoprotein-overexpressing cells. The primary event of the apoptotic pathway is the dissociation of glutathione S-transferase P1-1 from the complex with c-Jun N-terminal kinase. Interestingly, leukemia MDR1-expressing cells show lower LC50 values and a higher degree of apoptosis and caspase-3 activity than their drug-sensitive counterparts. The increased susceptibility of the multidrug resistance cells toward the NBDHEX action may be related to a lower content of glutathione S-transferase P1-1. Given the low toxicity of NBDHEX in vivo, this compound may represent an attractive basis for the selective treatment of MDR1 P-glycoprotein-positive tumors.

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