Multidrug resistance (MDR) is a great challenge and obstacle in cancer treatment. It is a common problem in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Whether grape seed proanthocyanidin extract (GSPE) could reverse MDR in patients with AML is still unknown. The aim of this study was to investigate the MDR reverse ability of GSPE and its possible mechanism in vitro.
Human leukemia cell line HL-60 cells and HL-ADR cells were used. MTT assay were employed to identify the cytotoxic effects of different chemotherapeutic drugs and reverse ability of GSPE. Flow cytometry assays were used to verify the cell apoptosis induced by GSPE. MDR-related genes expression was tested by real-time polymerase chain reaction (Q-PCR). MDR-related protein expression was assessed by Western blotting assays. The genes and their related protein expression of multidrug resistance-associated protein 1 (MRP1), multidrug resistance protein 1 (MDR1) and lung resistance-related protein (LRP) were tested in this study.
We found that HL-60/ADR cells were resistant to a variety of chemotherapeutic drugs, including cytarabine (Ara-C), adriamycin (ADR), vincristine (VCR), daunorubicin (DNR), mitoxantrone (MTZ), pirarubicin (THP), homoharringtonine (HHT) and etoposide (VP16). Co-treatment with GSPE could significant lower the IC of Ara-C and ADR in HL-60/ADR cells (P <  0.01). MDR related mRNA and their protein expression of MRP1 and MDR1 were significant highly expressed in HL-60/ADR cells than HL-60 cells (P <  0.01). But only protein expression of LRP was higher in HL-60/ADR cells than HL-60 cells (P <  0.05). GSPE could induce a higher intracellular level of ADR in HL-60/ADR cells. It could also inhibit Akt phosphorylation resulted in the down regulation of MRP1, MDR1 and LRP and induce cell apoptosis. 25.0 μg/mL GSPE significant inhibited the Akt phosphorylation (P <  0.05).
GSPE-reversed MDR of HL-60/ADR cells might be associated with the inhibition of the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway, which resulted in the down-regulation the expression of MRP1, MDR1 and LRP. These results provide that GSPE may serve as a combination therapy in AML chemotherapy for future study.

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