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Cancer Metastasis Rev. 1994 Jun;13(2):223-33.

P-glycoprotein, multidrug resistance and tumor progression.

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Ontario Cancer Institute, Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Canada.


P-glycoprotein (Pgp) is a plasma membrane protein that was first characterised in multidrug resistant cell lines. The occurrence of Pgp in clinical tumors has been widely studied. Recent investigations have begun to focus on the relationship between Pgp detection in tumors and treatment outcome. In several types of tumors, detection of Pgp correlates with poor response to chemotherapy and shorter survival. P-glycoprotein over-expression often occurs upon relapse from chemotherapy but may also occur at the time of diagnosis. Studies of experimental rat liver carcinogenesis have shown that Pgp expression increases in late stages of carcinogenesis, suggesting that Pgp may be involved in tumor progression. While some of the Pgp isoforms are known to transport hydrophobic chemotherapeutic drugs out of tumor cells, the biologic effects of Pgp overexpression in tumor cells are not fully understood, because the spectrum of substrates for Pgp-mediated transport has not been determined. In the rat liver carcinoma model, strong expression of Pgp is associated with a highly vascular stroma, suggesting that Pgp in tumor cells may affect the connective tissue stroma. The regulation of Pgp appears to be complex, and little is known about how it is up-regulated during carcinogenesis. Further studies of the role of Pgp in malignancy may contribute to our understanding of molecular mechanisms which underlie tumor progression.

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