Multidrug-Resistant Gene Expression in Small-Cell Lung Cancer

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The development of drug resistance can contribute to treatment failure in small-cell lung cancer (SCLC). In this report, we investigate p-glycoprotein-mediated multidrug resistance (MDR) in these patients. Tumor tissue was obtained prior to treatment and at relapse if possible, short-term culture was carried out, and these tumor cells were analyzed for MDR gene expression by slot blot and reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and northern blot analysis. Three cell lines were also established from shortterm cultures. Twenty-four patients with MDR(−) and seven with MDR+(++) were available for survival analysis. Median survival for MDR(−) patients was 10 months, whereas for MDR+(++) patients it was 2 months. This was statistically significance (p < 0.0007). The presence of MDR1 gene expression also correlated with the lack of response to chemotherapy (p < 0.001). Increased MDR1 gene expression is usually present in patients with more tumor burden at initial diagnosis. Furthermore, loss of MDR1 gene expression can occur in intrinsically MDR(+) SCLC cells after multiple passages in drug-free media. We concluded that increased MDR1 gene expression is present in a small number of SCLC both before and after chemotherapy and usually signifies poor survival and no response to chemotherapy.

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