Cross resistance relevance of the chemical structure of different anthracyclines in multidrug resistant cells

H. Tapiero, G. Nguyen-Ba, T. J. Lampidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Positively charged doxorubicin (DOX) and non-positively charged anthracyclines, aclarubicin (ACR) and morpholino-carminomycin (KRN 8602), have been investigated with respect to pharmacological parameters, cytotoxicity, DNA damage and repair in DOX-sensitive and -resistant murine and human cells. Friend leukemia cells (FLC) resistant to high concentrations of doxorubicin (DOX-RFLC3) or daunorubicin (DNR-RFLC3) (1771 and 1543 fold resistance respectively) express less than 10 fold resistance to aclarubicin (ACR). In these cells, the intracellular accumulation of ACR is similar in sensitive and resistant cells. Resistance to ACR was not observed in either DOX-RFLC1 or DNR1 with a lower level of resistance (27 fold). Increased expression of a 170,000-dalton surface antigen (gp-170) was found to be correlated with the level of resistance. However, when the selective agent is ACR, despite the low level of resistance (2.8 fold) both high expression of gp 170 and resistance to DOX (77 fold) or DNR (62 fold) are observed. It is assumed therefore that induction of multidrug resistance phenotype can be achieved by compounds which do not display cross resistance with DOX or DNR. Reduced levels or absence of cross-resistance can be related to the electrical charge of the compound. This assumption is supported by further studies on DOX-sensitive or -resistant human K562 cells exposed to another non-positively charged anthracycline, KRN 8602. In the continuous presence of drug, K562/DOX were less resistant to KRN 8602 (2.9 fold) than to DOX (31 fold). After short time exposure followed by growth in drug-free medium, absence of cross-resistance to KRN 8602 has been observed in K562/DOX. Furthermore, accumulation experiments showed that high intracellular drug concentrations were rapidly achieved (within 15 min) in both DOX-sensitive and -resistant cells. In cells exposed to DOX, DNA single-strand break (DNA-SSBs) frequencies were related to time and drug concentration while those produced by KRN 8602 or ACR were maximal after short time incubation. DNA-SSBs produced by these antharacyclines are not repaired when cells are incubated in drug free medium. In DOX resistant cells, DNA-SSBs produced by DOX were repaired whereas those produced by ACR or KRN 8602 were not. It is suggested, therefore, that absence of cross resistance to various anthracyclines is related to differences in the chemicalelectrical charge, which may influence drug accumulation and DNA repair in resistant cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)328-337
Number of pages10
JournalPathologie Biologie
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994
Externally publishedYes


  • accumulation
  • anthracyclines
  • breaks
  • DNA
  • resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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