Biochemical pharmacology

Alternation of adriamycin penetration kinetics in MCF-7 cells from 2D to 3D culture based on P-gp expression through the Chk2/p53/NF-κB pathway.

PMID 25478729


Monolayer cells are largely different from tumor masses, and might misguide drug screenings. 3D in vitro cell culture models simulate the characteristics of tumor masses in vivo and have recently been used in many studies of anti-cancer drugs. Among various 3D cell culture models, multi-cellular layer (MCL) models allow for the direct quantitative assessment of the penetration of chemotherapeutic agents through solid tissue environments without requiring the use of fluorescently labeled drugs or imaging molecules. Therefore, in our present study, a 3D-no base and embedded MCF-7 MCL model was successfully developed for a 14-day culture. Over time, its thickness and cell layers increased and exhibited highly proliferative properties and drug resistance to adriamycin (ADR) with markedly elevated IC50 values. Meanwhile, G2/M stage cycle arrest was also observed, which likely up-regulated P-gp expression through the Chk2/p53/NF-κB pathway. The elevated P-gp expression altered the ADR penetration kinetics in MCF-7 MCLs in vitro by accelerating the apparent penetration of ADR through the intercellular spaces of the MCLs. Additionally, a decreased ADR retention within tumor cells was observed, but could be significantly reversed by a P-gp inhibitor. The attenuated ADR retention in the deeper cells of tumor masses was confirmed in xenografted mice in vivo. This phenomenon could be elucidated by the mathematical modeling of penetration kinetics parameters. Our study provided a new model that evaluated and improved the quantification of the drug penetration kinetics, revealed the relationship between P-gp and drug penetration through tumor masses, and suggested the potential molecular mechanisms.