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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006 Dec;1758(12):2096-103. Epub 2006 Aug 26.

Glycosphingolipids and drug resistance.

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Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center, 2200 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90404, USA.


Drug resistance, an all too frequent characteristic of cancer, represents a serious barrier to successful treatment. Although many resistance mechanisms have been described, those that involve membrane-resident proteins belonging to the ABC (ATP binding cassette) transporter superfamily are of particular interest. In addition to cancer, the ABC transporter proteins are active in diseases such as malaria and leishmaniasis. A recent renaissance in lipid metabolism, specifically ceramide and sphingolipids, has fueled research and provided insight into the role of glycosphingolipids in multidrug resistance. This article reviews current knowledge on ceramide, glucosylceramide synthase and cerebrosides, and the relationship of these lipids to cellular response to anticancer agents.

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