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Clin Exp Immunol. 2009 Feb;155(2):239-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03817.x. Epub 2008 Nov 24.

Enhanced complement resistance in drug-selected P-glycoprotein expressing multi-drug-resistant ovarian carcinoma cells.

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Department of Internal Medicine III, Cardiology, University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany.


Multi-drug resistance (MDR) is a major obstacle in cancer chemotherapy. There are contrasting data on a possible correlation between the level of expression of the drug transporter P-glycoprotein (P-gp) and susceptibility to complement-dependent cytotoxicity (CDC). We therefore investigated the sensitivity of human ovarian carcinoma cells and their P-gp expressing MDR variants to complement. Chemoselected P-gp expressing MDR cells showed increased resistance to CDC associated with overexpression of membrane-bound complement regulatory proteins (mCRP) and increased release of the soluble inhibitors C1 inhibitor and factor I. MDR1 gene transfection alone did not alter the susceptibility of P-gp expressing A2780-MDR and SKOV3-MDR cells to CDC. However, subsequent vincristine treatment conferred an even higher resistance to complement to these cells, again associated with increased expression of mCRP. Blocking the function of P-gp with verapamil, cyclosporine A or the anti-P-gp-antibody MRK16 had no impact on their complement resistance, whereas blocking of mCRP enhanced their susceptibility to complement. These results suggest that enhanced resistance of chemoselected MDR ovarian carcinoma cells to CDC is not conferred by P-gp, but is due at least partly to overexpression of mCRP, probably induced by treatment with the chemotherapeutic agents.

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