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Oncologist. 2007 Aug;12(8):927-41.

Concise review: Clinical relevance of drug drug and herb drug interactions mediated by the ABC transporter ABCB1 (MDR1, P-glycoprotein).

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The Netherlands Cancer Institute, Plesmanlaan 121, 1066 CX Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The importance of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) in drug-drug interactions is increasingly being identified. P-gp has been reported to affect the pharmacokinetics of numerous structurally and pharmacologically diverse substrate drugs. Furthermore, genetic variability in the multidrug resistance 1 gene influences absorption and tissue distribution of drugs transported. Inhibition or induction of P-gp by coadministered drugs or food as well as herbal constituents may result in pharmacokinetic interactions leading to unexpected toxicities or undertreatment. On the other hand, modulation of P-gp expression and/or activity may be a useful strategy to improve the pharmacological profile of anticancer P-gp substrate drugs. In recent years, the use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), like herbs, food, and vitamins, by cancer patients has increased significantly. CAM use substantially increases the risk for interactions with anticancer drugs, especially because of the narrow therapeutic window of these compounds. However, for most CAMs, it is unknown whether they affect metabolizing enzymes and/or drug transporter activity. Clinically relevant interactions are reported between St John's wort or grapefruit juice and anticancer as well as nonanticancer drugs. CAM-drug interactions could explain, at least in part, the large interindividual variation in efficacy and toxicity associated with drug therapy in both cancer and noncancer patients. The study of drug-drug, food-drug, and herb-drug interactions and of genetic factors affecting pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics is expected to improve drug safety and will enable individualized drug therapy. Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest is found at the end of this article.

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