Photochemical internalisation of chemotherapy potentiates killing of multidrug-resistant breast and bladder cancer cells.Br J Cancer. 2007 Aug 20; 97(4):502-12.BJ
Multidrug resistance (MDR) is the major confounding factor in adjuvant solid tumour chemotherapy. Increasing intracellular amounts of chemotherapeutics to circumvent MDR may be achieved by a novel delivery method, photochemical internalisation (PCI). PCI consists of the co-administration of drug and photosensitiser; upon light activation the latter induces intracellular release of organelle-bound drug. We investigated whether co-administration of hypericin (photosensitiser) with mitoxantrone (MTZ, chemotherapeutic) plus illumination potentiates cytotoxicity in MDR cancer cells. We mapped the extent of intracellular co-localisation of drug/photosensitiser. We determined whether PCI altered drug-excreting efflux pump P-glycoprotein (Pgp) expression or function in MDR cells. Bladder and breast cancer cells and their Pgp-overexpressing MDR subclones (MGHU1, MGHU1/R, MCF-7, MCF-7/R) were given hypericin/MTZ combinations, with/without blue-light illumination. Pilot experiments determined appropriate sublethal doses for each. Viability was determined by the 3-[4,5-dimethylthiazolyl]-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide assay. Intracellular localisation was mapped by confocal microscopy. Pgp expression was detected by immunofluorescence and Pgp function investigated by Rhodamine123 efflux on confocal microscopy. MTZ alone (0.1-0.2 microg ml(-1)) killed up to 89% of drug-sensitive cells; MDR cells exhibited less cytotoxicity (6-28%). Hypericin (0.1-0.2 microM) effects were similar for all cells; light illumination caused none or minimal toxicity. In combination, MTZ /hypericin plus illumination, potentiated MDR cell killing, vs hypericin or MTZ alone. (MGHU1/R: 38.65 and 36.63% increase, P<0.05; MCF-7/R: 80.2 and 46.1% increase, P<0.001). Illumination of combined MTZ/hypericin increased killing by 28.15% (P<0.05 MGHU1/R) compared to dark controls. Intracytoplasmic vesicular co-localisation of MTZ/hypericin was evident before illumination and at serial times post-illumination. MTZ was always found in sensitive cell nuclei, but not in dark resistant cell nuclei. In illuminated resistant cells there was some mobilisation of MTZ into the nucleus. Pgp expression remained unchanged, regardless of drug exposure. Pgp efflux was blocked by the Pgp inhibitor verapamil (positive control) but not impeded by hypericin. The increased killing of MDR cancer cells demonstrated is consistent with PCI. PCI is a promising technique for enhancing treatment efficacy.