Targeting P-glycoprotein expression and cancer cell energy metabolism: combination of metformin and 2-deoxyglucose reverses the multidrug resistance of K562/Dox cells to doxorubicin.Tumour Biol. 2016 Jul; 37(7):8587-97.TB
P-glycoprotein (P-gp) is one of the major obstacles to efficiency of cancer chemotherapy. Here, we investigated whether combination of metformin and 2-deoxyglucose reverses the multidrug resistance (MDR) of K562/Dox cells and tried to elucidate the possible mechanisms. The combination of metformin and 2-deoxyglucose selectively enhanced the cytotoxicity of doxorubicin against K562/Dox cells. Metformin was not a substrate of P-gp but suppressed the elevated level of P-gp in K562/Dox cells. The downregulation of P-gp may be partly attributed to the inhibition of extracellular signal-regulated kinase pathway. The addition of 2-deoxyglucose to metformin initiated a strong metabolic stress in both K562 and K562/Dox cells. Combination of metformin and 2-deoxyglucose inhibited glucose uptake and lactate production in K562 and K562/Dox cells leading to a severe depletion in ATP and a enhanced autophagy. Above all, P-gp substrate selectively aggravated this ATP depletion effect and increased cell apoptosis in K562/Dox cells. In conclusion, metformin decreases P-gp expression in K562/Dox cells via blocking phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase. P-gp substrate increases K562/Dox cell apoptosis via aggravating ATP depletion induced by combination of metformin and 2-deoxyglucose. Our observations highlight the importance of combination of metformin and 2-deoxyglucose in reversing multidrug resistance.