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Phytomedicine. 2019 Nov 26;67:153141. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2019.153141. [Epub ahead of print]

Nobiletin potentiates paclitaxel anticancer efficacy in A549/T xenograft model: Pharmacokinetic and pharmacological study.

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State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, Macau University of Science and Technology, Avenida Wai Long, Taipa, Macau (SAR), China.
Nephrology department, Shanxi Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital, Xian 710003, China.
The Second Clinical College of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangdong Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou 510120, China.
State Key Laboratory of Drug Delivery Technology and Pharmacokinetics, Tianjin Institute of Pharmaceutical Research, Tianjin 300193, China.
State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, Macau University of Science and Technology, Avenida Wai Long, Taipa, Macau (SAR), China. Electronic address:



Nobiletin (N), a polymethoxylated flavone from citrus fruits, enhanced anti-cancer effects of paclitaxel (PTX) in multi-drug resistance (MDR) cancer cells via inhibiting P-glycoprotein (P-gp) in our previous report. But the in vivo chemo-sensitizing effect of nobiletin is unknown. Moreover, considering the nonlinear pharmacokinetics and narrow therapeutic window of PTX, drug-drug interaction should be explored for using nobiletin with PTX together.


In this study, we wanted to explore whether nobiletin could affect the pharmacokinetic (PK) behavior of PTX and reverse drug resistance in vivo as well as the corresponding mechanisms.


Accurate and sensitive UPLC-MS/MS method was developed for the detection of PTX, and was applied to the pharmacokinetic study in rats. In vivo anti-MDR tumor study was carried out with A549/T xenograft nude mice model. Immunohistochemistry and western blot analysis were used for evaluating the levels of P-gp, Nrf2, and AKT/ERK pathways in MDR tumors.


Nobiletin significantly enhanced the therapeutic effects of PTX, and inhibited the MDR tumor sizes in the A549/T xenograft model, while PTX or nobiletin alone did not. We found that nobiletin increased the PTX concentrations in tumor tissues but did not affect the PK behavior of PTX. Notably, Nrf2 and phosphorylation of AKT/ERK expression in MDR tumor tissues were significantly inhibited by giving nobiletin and PTX together. However, nobiletin did not affect the expression of P-gp.


Nobiletin reversed PTX resistance in MDR tumor via increasing the PTX content in the MDR tumor and inhibiting AKT/ERK/Nrf2 pathways, but without affecting the systematic exposure of PTX, indicating that nobiletin may be an effective and safe MDR tumor reversal agent.


AKT/ERK/Nrf2; Nobiletin; P-glycoprotein; Paclitaxel-resistant; Pharmacokinetics

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