The overexpression of permeability-glycoprotein (P-gp), an ABC transporter involved in the cellular exclusion of chemotherapeutic drugs, is a major factor in paclitaxel-resistant ovarian cancer. However, in clinical trials, co-administration of P-gp inhibitors and anticancer drugs has not resulted in the efficient reversal of drug resistance. To improve administration, we encapsulated the third-generation P-gp inhibitor tariquidar (XR-9576, XR), alone or in combination with paclitaxel (PCT) in liposomes (LP). After optimization, the liposomes demonstrated favorable physicochemical properties and the ability to reverse chemoresistance in experiments using chemosensitive/chemoresistant ovarian cancer cell line pairs. Analyzing publicly available datasets, we found that overexpression of P-gp in ovarian cancer is associated with a shorter progression-free and overall survival. In vitro, LP(XR) significantly increased the cellular retention of rhodamine 123, a P-gp substrate. LP(XR,PCT) synergistically inhibited cell viability, blocked proliferation, and caused G2–M arrest in paclitaxel-resistant SKOV3-TR and HeyA8-MDR cell lines overexpressing P-gp. Holographic imaging cytometry revealed that LP(XR,PCT) treatment of SKOV3-TR cells induced almost complete mitotic arrest, whereas laser scanning cytometry showed that the treatment induced apoptosis. In proof-of-concept preclinical studies, LP(XR,PCT), when compared with LP(PCT), significantly reduced tumor weight (43.2% vs. 16.9%, P = 0.0007) and number of metastases (44.4% vs. 2.8%, P = 0.012) in mice bearing orthotopic HeyA8-MDR ovarian tumors. In the xenografts, LP(XR,PCT) efficiently induced apoptosis and impaired proliferation. Our findings suggest that co-delivery of a P-gp inhibitor and paclitaxel using a liposomal platform can sensitize paclitaxel-resistant ovarian cancer cells to paclitaxel. LP(XR,PCT) should be considered for clinical testing in patients with P-gp–overexpressing tumors. Mol Cancer Ther; 15(10); 1–12. ©2016 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Molecular Cancer Therapeutics Online (http://mct.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received December 22, 2015.
- Revision received June 23, 2016.
- Accepted July 13, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.