American Chemical Society
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A Mechanism for P-Glycoprotein-Mediated Apoptosis As Revealed by Verapamil Hypersensitivity

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journal contribution
posted on 2003-10-03, 00:00 authored by Joel Karwatsky, Maximilian C. Lincoln, Elias Georges
Selection of tumor cell lines with anticancer drugs has led to the appearance of multidrug-resistant (MDR) subclones with P-glycoprotein 1 (P-gp1) expression. These cells are cross-resistant to several structurally and functionally dissimilar drugs. Interestingly, in the process of gaining resistance, MDR cells become hypersensitive or collaterally sensitive to membrane-active agents, such as calcium channel blockers, steroids, and local anaesthetics. In this report, hypersensitivity to the calcium channel blocker, verapamil, was analyzed in sensitive and resistant CHO cell lines. Our results show that treatment with verapamil preferentially induced apoptosis in MDR cells compared to drug-sensitive cells. This effect was independent of p53 activity and could be inhibited by overexpression of the Bcl-2 gene. The induction of apoptosis by verapamil had a biphasic trend in which maximum cell death occurred at 10 μM, followed by improved cell survival at higher concentrations (50 μM). We correlated this effect to a similar biphasic trend in P-gp1 ATPase activation by verapamil in which low concentrations of verapamil (10 μM) activated ATPase, followed by inhibition at higher concentrations. To confirm the relationship between apoptosis and ATPase activity, we used two inhibitors of P-gp1 ATPase, PSC 833 and ivermectin. These ATPase inhibitors reduced hypersensitivity to verapamil in MDR cells. In addition, low concentrations of verapamil resulted in the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in MDR cells. Taken together, these results show that apoptosis was preferentially induced by P-gp1 expressing cells exposed to verapamil, an effect that was mediated by ROS, produced in response the high ATP demand by P-gp1.