Multidrug resistance: Physiological principles and nanomedical solutions

S. Kunjachan, B. Rychlik, Gerrit Storm, F. Kiessling, Twan Gerardus Gertudis Maria Lammers

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220 Citations (Scopus)
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Multidrug resistance (MDR) is a pathophysiological phenomenon employed by cancer cells which limits the prolonged and effective use of chemotherapeutic agents. MDR is primarily based on the over-expression of drug efflux pumps in the cellular membrane. Prominent examples of such efflux pumps, which belong to the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) superfamily of proteins, are Pgp (P-glycoprotein) and MRP (multidrug resistance-associated protein), nowadays officially known as ABCB1 and ABCC1. Over the years, several strategies have been evaluated to overcome MDR, based not only on the use of low-molecular-weight MDR modulators, but also on the implementation of 1–100(0) nm-sized drug delivery systems. In the present manuscript, after introducing the most important physiological principles of MDR, we summarize prototypic nanomedical strategies to overcome multidrug resistance, including the use of carrier materials with intrinsic anti-MDR properties, the use of nanomedicines to modify the mode of cellular uptake, and the co-formulation of chemotherapeutic drugs together with low- and high-molecular-weight MDR inhibitors within a single drug delivery system. While certain challenges still need to be overcome before such constructs and concepts can be widely applied in the clinic, the insights obtained and the progress made strongly suggest that nanomedicine formulations hold significant potential for improving the treatment of multidrug-resistant malignancies
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)1852-1865
JournalAdvanced drug delivery reviews
Issue number13-14
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • IR-90159
  • METIS-301796

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