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Exp Cell Res. 1990 Sep;190(1):69-75.

Retention of vital dyes correlates inversely with the multidrug-resistant phenotype of adriamycin-selected murine fibrosarcoma variants.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston 77030.


Retention of the vital dyes rhodamine 123 (R-123) and hydroethidine (HET) correlates inversely with the multidrug resistant phenotypes of the adriamycin (ADM)-selected variants of a uv-induced murine fibrosarcoma cell line (UV-2237M). The differential affinity of these dyes for specific cellular organelles makes them unique compounds for studies of cellular transport. HET enters viable cells freely, is dehydrogenated to ethidium bromide (EtBr), and is subsequently accumulated in the nucleus. Viable cells are impermeable to extracellular EtBr, facilitating kinetic analysis of the efflux of intracellular EtBr. We found that the metabolite EtBr was rapidly cleared by ADM-resistant but not by ADM-sensitive cells. R-123 has a high affinity to mitochondria. Our results show that ADM-sensitive cells retain R-123 whereas the ADM-resistant cells do not. The clearance of both R-123 and EtBr from these cells was inhibited by verapamil. Therefore, R-123 and HET may be considered MDR-associated compounds useful in studying the MDR phenotype of cancer cells. Previously we reported a direct correlation between the level of activity of the calcium- and phospholipid-dependent protein kinase (protein kinases C) and ADM resistance in UV-2237M variant lines. In this report, we demonstrate a direct correlation between cellular calcium and MDR in these cells. Although chelation of extracellular calcium by EDTA did not alter the fluorescence profile of R-123 of the various cell lines, treating the ADM-resistant variants with verapamil restored cellular calcium to the same level as that of the parental cells and, at the same time, retarded the facilitated efflux of R-123 and EtBr and partially reversed cancer cell resistance to ADM.

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