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Endocrine. 2014 Dec;47(3):943-51. doi: 10.1007/s12020-014-0374-z. Epub 2014 Aug 6.

Mitotane enhances doxorubicin cytotoxic activity by inhibiting P-gp in human adrenocortical carcinoma cells.

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Section of Endocrinology, Department of Medical Sciences, University of Ferrara, Via A. Moro, 8, 44124, Ferrara, Italy.


Mitotane is currently employed as adjuvant therapy as well as in the medical treatment of adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC), alone or in combination with chemotherapeutic agents. It was previously demonstrated that mitotane potentiates chemotherapeutic drugs cytotoxicity in cancer cells displaying chemoresistance due to P-glycoprotein (P-gp), an efflux pump involved in cancer multidrug resistance. The majority of ACC expresses high levels of P-gp and is highly chemoresistent. The aim of our study was to explore in vitro whether mitotane, at concentrations lower than those currently reached in vivo, may sensitize ACC cells to the cytotoxic effects of doxorubicin and whether this effect is due to a direct action on P-gp. NCI-H295 and SW13 cell lines as well as 4 adrenocortical neoplasia primary cultures were treated with mitotane and doxorubicin, and cell viability was measured by MTT assay. P-gp activity was measured by calcein and P-gp-Glo assays. P-gp expression was evaluated by Western blot. We found that very low mitotane concentrations sensitize ACC cells to the cytotoxic effects of doxorubicin, depending on P-gp expression. In addition, mitotane directly inhibits P-gp detoxifying function, allowing doxorubicin cytotoxic activity. These data provide the basis for the greater efficacy of combination therapy (mitotane plus chemotherapeutic drugs) on ACC patients. Shedding light on mitotane mechanisms of action could result in an improved design of drug therapy for patients with ACC.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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