Modulation of multidrug resistance and apoptosis of cancer cells by selected carotenoids

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The multidrug resistance (MDR) proteins that belong to the ATP-binding casette superfamily are present in a majority of human tumors and are an important final cause of therapeutic failure. Therefore, compounds which inhibit the function of the MDR-efflux proteins may improve the cytotoxic action of anticancer chemotherapy. The effects of carotenoids were studied on the activity of the MDR-1 gene-encoded efflux pump system. The carotenoids, isolated from paprika and other vegetables, were tested on the rhodamine 123 accumulation of human MDR-1 gene-transfected L1210 mouse lymphoma cells and human breast cancer cells MDA-MB-231 (HTB-26). Capsanthin and capsorubin enhanced the rhodamine 123 accumulation 30-fold relative to nontreated lymphoma cells. Lycopene, lutein, antheraxanthin and violaxanthin had moderate effects, while alfa- and beta-carotene had no effect on the reversal of MDR in the tumor cells. Apoptosis was induced in human MDR1 transfected mouse lymphoma cells and human breast cancer MDA-MB-231 (HTB-26) cell lines in the presence of lycopene, zeaxanthin and capsanthin. The data suggest the potential of carotenoids as possible resistance modifiers in cancer chemotherapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-244
Number of pages8
JournalIn Vivo
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2004


  • Apoptosis
  • Carotenoids
  • Multidrug resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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