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Cytometry. 1994 Dec 1;17(4):343-8.

Constitutive expression of P-glycoprotein as a determinant of loading with fluorescent calcium probes.

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Ontario Cancer Institute, University of Toronto, Canada.


Determination of intracellular calcium levels in Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells using the fluorescent calcium probe indo-1AM was hindered by the low level of accumulation of indo-1 in these cells. CHO cells are known to express basal levels of the multidrug resistance efflux pump P-glycoprotein (P-gp). Rhodamine-123, which is a known substrate of P-gp, was used to confirm the presence of P-gp in CHO cells. Verapamil and cyclosporin (CsA), both inhibitors of P-gp, enhanced accumulation of indo-1 in these cells and therefore allowed for improved intracellular calcium measurements. P-gp overexpressing colchicine-resistant CHO cells (CHRC5) also displayed enhanced indo-1AM loading with P-gp inhibitors. Nondetectable levels of P-gp activity were found in wild-type CEM-CCRF cells (human T lymphoblasts), and these cells did not show any difference in indo-1AM loading in the presence or absence of P-gp inhibitors. Loading of a second calcium fluorescent probe fluo-3AM was improved in CHO cells by P-gp inhibition, whereas the structurally related pH probe BCECF-AM was minimally affected. Because low levels of P-gp may be expressed by a range of cell lines and normal tissues, it is suggested that this be considered if difficulties are encountered in loading fluorescent calcium probes.

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