BackgroundMultidrug resistance (MDR) is a major factor which contributes to the failure of cancer chemotherapy, and numerous efforts have been attempted to overcome MDR. To date, none of these attempts have yielded a tolerable and effective therapy to reverse MDR; thus, identification of new agents would be useful both clinically and scientifically.
Methodology/principal findingsTo identify small molecule compounds that can reverse chemoresistance, we developed a 96-well plate high-throughput cell-based screening assay in a paclitaxel resistant ovarian cancer cell line. Coincubating cells with a sublethal concentration of paclitaxel in combination with each of 2,000 small molecule compounds from the National Cancer Institute Diversity Set Library, we identified a previously uncharacterized molecule, NSC23925, that inhibits Pgp1 and reverses MDR1 (Pgp1) but does not inhibit MRP or BCRP-mediated MDR. The cytotoxic activity of NSC23925 was further evaluated using a panel of cancer cell lines expressing Pgp1, MRP, and BCRP. We found that at a concentration of >10 microM NSC23925 moderately inhibits the proliferation of both sensitive and resistant cell lines with almost equal activity, but its inhibitory effect was not altered by co-incubation with the Pgp1 inhibitor, verapamil, suggesting that NSC23925 itself is not a substrate of Pgp1. Additionally, NSC23925 increases the intracellular accumulation of Pgp1 substrates: calcein AM, Rhodamine-123, paclitaxel, mitoxantrone, and doxorubicin. Interestingly, we further observed that, although NSC23925 directly inhibits the function of Pgp1 in a dose-dependent manner without altering the total expression level of Pgp1, NSC23925 actually stimulates ATPase activity of Pgp, a phenomenon seen in other Pgp inhibitors.
Conclusions/significanceThe ability of NSC23925 to restore sensitivity to the cytotoxic effects of chemotherapy or to prevent resistance could significantly benefit cancer patients.