Research Papers:

Afatinib reverses multidrug resistance in ovarian cancer via dually inhibiting ATP binding cassette subfamily B member 1

Sheng-qi Wang, Shi-ting Liu, Bo-xin Zhao, Fu-heng Yang, Ya-tian Wang, Qian-ying Liang, Ya-bin Sun, Yuan Liu, Zhi-hua Song, Yun Cai and Guo-feng Li _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:26142-26160. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.4536

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Sheng-qi Wang1, Shi-ting Liu1, Bo-xin Zhao1, Fu-heng Yang1, Ya-tian Wang1, Qian-ying Liang1, Ya-bin Sun2, Yuan Liu1, Zhi-hua Song1, Yun Cai1, Guo-feng Li1

1Department of Pharmacy, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, 510515, China

2GCP Center, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, 510515, China

Correspondence to:

Guo-Feng Li, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: tyrosine kinase inhibitor, afatinib, ovarian cancer, multidrug resistance, ABCB1

Received: March 12, 2015     Accepted: July 10, 2015     Published: July 20, 2015


ABCB1-mediated multidrug resistance (MDR) remains a major obstacle to successful chemotherapy in ovarian cancer. Herein, afatinib at nontoxic concentrations significantly reversed ABCB1-mediated MDR in ovarian cancer cells in vitro (p < 0.05). Combining paclitaxel and afatinib caused tumor regressions and tumor necrosis in A2780T xenografts in vivo. More interestingly, unlike reversible TKIs, afatinib had a distinctive dual-mode action. Afatinib not only inhibited the efflux function of ABCB1, but also attenuated its expression transcriptionally via down-regulation of PI3K/AKT and MAPK/p38-dependent activation of NF-κB. Furthermore, apart from a substrate binding domain, afatinib could also bind to an ATP binding domain of ABCB1 through forming hydrogen bonds with Gly533, Gly534, Lys536 and Ala560 sites. Importantly, mutations in these four binding sites of ABCB1 and the tyrosine kinase domain of EGFR were not correlated with the reversal activity of afatinib on MDR. Given that afatinib is a clinically approved drug, our results suggest combining afatinib with chemotherapeutic drugs in ovarian cancer. This study can facilitate the rediscovery of superior MDR reversal agents from molecular targeted drugs to provide a more effective and safer way of resensitizing MDR.

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