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Tamoxifen resistance induction results in the upregulation of ABCG2 expression and mitoxantrone resistance in MCF-7 breast cancer cells.

  • Ghalehno, Asefeh Dahmardeh1
  • Abdi, Hakimeh1
  • Boustan, Arad2
  • Jamialahmadi, Khadijeh3
  • Mosaffa, Fatemeh4
  • 1 Department of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, School of Pharmacy, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran. , (Iran)
  • 2 Department of Medical Biotechnology and Nanotechnology, Faculty of Medicine, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran. , (Iran)
  • 3 Biotechnology Research Center, Pharmaceutical Technology Institute, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran. [email protected]. , (Iran)
  • 4 Biotechnology Research Center, Pharmaceutical Technology Institute, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran. [email protected]. , (Iran)
Published Article
Naunyn-Schmiedeberg's archives of pharmacology
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2023
DOI: 10.1007/s00210-023-02567-6
PMID: 37310508


Cancer endocrine therapy can promote evolutionary dynamics and lead to changes in the gene expression profile of tumor cells. We aimed to assess the effect of tamoxifen (TAM)-resistance induction on ABCG2 pump mRNA, protein, and activity in ER + MCF-7 breast cancer cells. We also evaluated if the resistance to TAM leads to the cross-resistance toward mitoxantrone (MX), a well-known substrate of the ABCG2 pump. The ABCG2 mRNA and protein expression were compared in MCF-7 and its TAM-resistant derivative MCF-7/TAMR cells using RT-qPCR and western blot methods, respectively. Cross-resistance of MCF-7/TAMR cells toward MX was evaluated by the MTT method. Flow cytometry was applied to compare ABCG2 function between cell lines using MX accumulation assay. ABCG2 mRNA expression was also analyzed in tamoxifen-sensitive (TAM-S) and tamoxifen-resistant (TAM-R) breast tumor tissues. The levels of ABCG2 mRNA, protein, and activity were significantly higher in MCF-7/TAMR cells compared to TAM-sensitive MCF-7 cells. MX was also less toxic in MCF-7/TAMR compared to MCF-7 cells. ABCG2 was also upregulated in tissue samples obtained from TAM-R cancer patients compared to TAM-S patients. Prolonged exposure of ER + breast cancer cells to the active form of TAM and clonal evolution imposed by the selective pressure of the drug can lead to higher expression of the ABCG2 pump in the emerged TAM-resistant cells. Therefore, in choosing a sequential therapy for a patient who develops resistance to TAM, the possibility of the cross-resistance of the evolved tumor to chemotherapy drugs that are ABCG2 substrates should be considered. Prolonged exposure of MCF-7 breast cancer cells to tamoxifen can cause resistance to it and an increase in the expression of the ABCG2 mRNA and protein levels in the cells. Tamoxifen resistance can lead to cross-resistance to mitoxantrone. © 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.

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