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J Pharmacol Toxicol Methods. 2012 Mar;65(2):64-74. doi: 10.1016/j.vascn.2012.02.002. Epub 2012 Feb 26.

Determining P-glycoprotein-drug interactions: evaluation of reconstituted P-glycoprotein in a liposomal system and LLC-MDR1 polarized cell monolayers.

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GLSynthesis Inc., One Innovation Drive, Worcester, Massachusetts 01605, USA.



P-Glycoprotein (ABCB1, MDR1) is a multidrug efflux pump that is a member of the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) superfamily. Many drugs in common clinical use are either substrates or inhibitors of this transporter. Quantitative details of P-glycoprotein inhibition by pharmaceutical agents are essential for assessment of their pharmacokinetic behavior and prevention of negative patient reactions. Cell-based systems have been widely used for determination of drug interactions with P-glycoprotein, but they suffer from several disadvantages, and results are often widely variable between laboratories. We aimed to demonstrate that a novel liposomal system employing contemporary biochemical methodologies could measure the ability of clinically used drugs to inhibit the P-glycoprotein pump. To accomplish this we compared results with those of cell-based approaches.


Purified transport-competent hamster Abcb1a P-glycoprotein was reconstituted into a unilamellar liposomal system, Fluorosome-trans-pgp, whose aqueous interior contains fluorescent drug sensors. This provides a well-defined system for measuring P-glycoprotein transport inhibition by test drugs in real time using rapid fluorescence-based technology.


Inhibition of ATP-driven transport by Fluorosome-trans-pgp employed a panel of 46 representative drugs. Resulting IC50 values correlated well (r2=0.80) with Kd values for drug binding to purified P-glycoprotein. They also showed a similar trend to transport inhibition data obtained using LLC-MDR1 cell monolayers. Fluorosome-trans-pgp IC50 values were in agreement with published results of digoxin drug-drug interaction studies in humans.


This novel approach using a liposomal system and fluorescence-based technology is shown to be suitable to study whether marketed drugs and drug candidates are P-glycoprotein inhibitors. The assay is rapid, allowing a 7-point IC50 determination in <6 min, and requires minimal quantities of test drug. The method is amenable to robotics and offers a cost advantage relative to conventional cell-based assays. The well-defined nature of this assay also obviates many of the inherent complications and ambiguities of cell-based systems.

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