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Mol Pharm. 2007 May-Jun;4(3):465-74. Epub 2007 Mar 17.

Mechanism of inhibition of P-glycoprotein mediated efflux by vitamin E TPGS: influence on ATPase activity and membrane fluidity.

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Biopharmaceutics and Pharmaceutical Technology, Saarland University, 66123 Saarbr├╝cken, Germany, Eastman Chemical Company.


Efflux pump (e.g., P-gp, MRP1, and BCRP) inhibition has been recognized as a strategy to overcome multi-drug resistance and improve drug bioavailability. Besides small-molecule inhibitors, surfactants such as Tween 80, Cremophor EL, several Pluronics, and Vitamin E TPGS (TPGS 1000) are known to modulate efflux pump activity. Competitive inhibition of substrate binding, alteration of membrane fluidity, and inhibition of efflux pump ATPase have been proposed as possible mechanisms. Focusing on TPGS 1000, the aim of our study was to unravel the inhibitory mechanism by comparing the results of inhibition experiments in a Caco-2 transport assay with data from electron spin resonance (ESR) and from ATPase activity studies. ESR results, on Caco-2 cells using 5-doxyl stearic acid (5-SA) as a spin probe, ruled out cell membrane fluidization as a major contributor; change of membrane fluidity was only observed at surfactant concentrations 100 times higher than those needed to achieve full efflux inhibition. Concurrently, TPGS 1000 inhibited substrate induced ATPase activity without inducing significant ATPase activity on its own. By investigating TPGS analogues that varied by their PEG chain length, and/or possessed a modified hydrophobic core, transport studies revealed that modulation of ATPase activity correlated with inhibitory potential for P-gp mediated efflux. Hence, these results indicate that ATPase inhibition is an essential factor in the inhibitory mechanism of TPGS 1000 on cellular efflux pumps.

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