Structural requirements for the flavonoid-mediated modulation of glutathione S-transferase P1-1 and GS-X pump activity in MCF7 breast cancer cells

J.J. van Zanden, L. Geraets, H.M. Wortelboer, P.J. van Bladeren, I.M.C.M. Rietjens, N.H.P. Cnubben

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The objective of this study was to investigate the structural requirements necessary for inhibition of glutathione S-transferase P1-1 (GSTP1-1) and GS-X pump (MRP1 and MRP2) activity by structurally related flavonoids, in GSTP1-1 transfected MCF7 cells (pMTG5). The results reveal that GSTP1-1 activity in MCF7 pMTG5 cells can be inhibited by some flavonoids. Especially galangin was able to inhibit almost all cellular GSTP1-1 activity upon exposure of the cells to a concentration of 25 muM. Other flavonoids like kaempferol, eriodictyol and quercetin showed a moderate GSTP1-1 inhibitory potential. For GSTP1-1 inhibition, no specific structural requirements necessary for potent inhibition could be defined. Most flavonoids appeared to be potent GS-X transport inhibitors with IC50 values ranging between 0.8 and 8 muM. Luteolin and quercetin were the strongest inhibitors with IC50 values of 0.8 and 1.3 muM, respectively. Flavonoids without a C2-C3 double bond like eriodictyol, taxifolin and catechin did not inhibit GS-X pump activity. The results of this study demonstrate that the structural features necessary for high potency GS-X pump inhibition by flavonoids are (1) the presence of hydroxyl groups, especially two of them generating the 3',4-catechol moiety; and (2) a planar molecule due to the presence of a C2-C3 double bond. Other factors, like lipophilicity and the total number of hydroxyl groups do not seem to be dominating the flavonoid-mediated GS-X pump inhibition. To identify the GS-X pump responsible for the DNP-SG efflux in MCF7 cells, the effects of three characteristic flavonoids quercetin, flavone and taxifolin on MRP1 and MRP2 activity were studied using transfected MDCKII cells. All three flavonoids as well as the typical MRP inhibitor (MK571) affected MRP1-mediated transport activity in a similar way as observed in the MCF7 cells. In addition, the most potent GS-X pump inhibitor in the MCF7 cells, quercetin, did not affect MRP2-mediated transport activity. These observations clearly indicate that the GS-X pump activity in the MCF7 cells is likely to be the result of flavonoid-mediated inhibition of MRP1 and not MRP2. Altogether, the present study reveals that a major site for flavonoid interaction with GSH-dependent toxicokinetics is the GS-X pump MRP1 rather than the conjugating GSTP1-1 activity itself. Of the flavonoids shown to be most active especially quercetin is frequently marketed in functional food supplements. Given the physiological levels expected to be reached upon supplement intake, the IC50 values of the present study point at possible flavonoid-drug and/or flavonoid-xenobiotic interactions especially regarding transport processes involved in toxicokinetics. (C) 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1607-1617
Number of pages11
JournalBiochemical Pharmacology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • multidrug-resistance protein
  • organic anion transporter
  • plant polyphenols
  • p-glycoprotein
  • abc transporters
  • inhibition
  • quercetin
  • drug
  • gene
  • family

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