Pharmacotherapy of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains challenging, and the disease has one of the lowest curability rates among hematological malignancies. The therapy outcomes are often compromised by the existence of a resistant AML phenotype associated with overexpression of ABCB1 and ABCG2 transporters. Because AML induction therapy frequently consists of anthracycline-like drugs, their efficiency may also be diminished by drug biotransformation via carbonyl reducing enzymes (CRE). In this study, we investigated the modulatory potential of the CDK4/6 inhibitors abemaciclib, palbociclib, and ribociclib on AML resistance using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) isolated from patients with de novo diagnosed AML. We first confirmed inhibitory effect of the tested drugs on ABCB1 and ABCG2 in ABC transporter-expressing resistant HL-60 cells while also showing the ability to sensitize the cells to cytotoxic drugs even as no effect on AML-relevant CRE isoforms was observed. All tested CDK4/6 inhibitors elevated mitoxantrone accumulations in CD34+ PBMC and enhanced accumulation of mitoxantrone was found with abemaciclib and ribociclib in PBMC of FLT3-ITD- patients. Importantly, the accumulation rate in the presence of CDK4/6 inhibitors positively correlated with ABCB1 expression in CD34+ patients and led to enhanced apoptosis of PBMC in contrast to CD34- samples. In summary, combination therapy involving CDK4/6 inhibitors could favorably target multidrug resistance, especially when personalized based on CD34- and ABCB1-related markers.
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