Overcoming vincristine resistance in cancer: Computational design and discovery of piperine-inspired P-glycoprotein inhibitors

Safiulla Basha Syed, Shu Yu Lin, Hemant Arya, I. Hsuan Fu, Teng Kuang Yeh, Mariasoosai Ramya Chandar Charles, Latha Periyasamy, Hsing Pang Hsieh, Mohane Selvaraj Coumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


P-glycoprotein (P-gp)/MDR-1 plays a major role in the development of multidrug resistance (MDR) by pumping the chemotherapeutic drugs out of the cancer cells and reducing their efficacy. A number of P-gp inhibitors were reported to reverse the MDR when co-administered with chemotherapeutic drugs. Unfortunately, none has approved for clinical use due to toxicity issues. Some of the P-gp inhibitors tested in the clinics are reported to have cross-reactivity with CYP450 drug-metabolizing enzymes, resulting in unpredictable pharmacokinetics and toxicity of co-administered chemotherapeutic drugs. In this study, two piperine analogs (3 and 4) having lower cross-reactivity with CYP3A4 drug-metabolizing enzyme are identified as P-glycoprotein (P-gp) inhibitors through computational design, followed by synthesis and testing in MDR cancer cell lines over-expressing P-gp (KB ChR 8–5, SW480-VCR, and HCT-15). Both the analogs significantly increased the vincristine efficacy in MDR cancer cell lines at low micromole concentrations. Specifically, 3 caused complete reversal of vincristine resistance in KB ChR 8–5 cells and found to act as competitive inhibitor of P-gp as well as potentiated the vincristine-induced NF-KB-mediated apoptosis. Therefore, 3 ((2E,4E)-1-(6,7-dimethoxy-3,4-dihydroisoquinolin-2(1H)-yl)-5-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)penta-2,4-dien-1-one) can serve as a potential P-gp inhibitor for in vivo investigations, to reverse multidrug resistance in cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-66
Number of pages16
JournalChemical Biology and Drug Design
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jan

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Organic Chemistry

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