In vitro search for synergy between flavonoids and epirubicin on multidrug-resistant cancer cells

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The drug accumulation of a human multidrug resistance 1 (mdr1) gene-transfected mouse lymphoma cell line and a multidrug resistance protein (MRP)-expressing human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231 was compared in the presence of sixteen flavonoids and five isoflavonoids. The expression of the 170-kDa P-glycoprotein (P-gp) (MDR1) and 190-kDa multidrug resistance protein (MRP) in both cell lines was confirmed by immunocytochemistry. The rhodamine 123 accumulation of the P-glycoprotein (P-gp)-expressing cells increased up to 46.4, while 2′,7′-bis(2-carboxyethyl)-5(6)-carboxy-fluorescein acetoxymethyl ester (BCECF-AM) accumulation of the MRP-expressing cells increased up to 1.6, in fluorescence activity ratio (FAR). Major P-gp-mediated efflux pump modifiers are formononetin, amorphigenin, rotenone and chrysin, while MRP-mediated efflux pump modifiers are formononetin, afrormosin, robinin, kaempferol and epigallocatechin. In antiproliferative assay, afrormosin, amorphigenin, chrysin and rotenone exhibited the strongest antiproliferative effects in L5178 (max. ID50: 19.70) and MDA-MB-231 cell lines (max. ID50: 55.47). In a checkerboard microplate method in vitro, furthermore, the most effective multidrug resistance (MDR) resistance modifiers, amorphigenin, formononetin, rotenone and chrysin, were assayed for their antiproliferative effects in combination with epirubicin. Rotenone and afrormosin showed additive effects. Chrysin and amorphigenin on the mouse lymphoma cell line and formononetin on the MDA-MB-231 cell line synergistically enhanced the effect of epirubicin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-374
Number of pages8
JournalIn Vivo
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2005



  • Flavonoids
  • Isoflavonoids
  • Multidrug resistance
  • P-glycoprotein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology

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