The expression of P-glycoprotein (P-gp), encoded by the MDR1 gene, is an independent adverse prognostic factor for response and survival in de novo acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Little is known about MDR1 expression during the development of disease. The present study investigated whether MDR1 gene- related clonal selection occurs in the development from diagnosis to relapsed AML, using a genetic polymorphism of the MDR1 gene at position 2677. Expression and function of P-gp were studied using monoclonal antibodies MRK16 and UIC2 and the Rhodamine 123 retention assay with or without PSC 833. No difference was found in the levels of P-gp function and expression between diagnosis and relapse in purified paired blast samples from 30 patients with AML. Thirteen patients were homozygous for the genetic polymorphism of MDR1 (n = 7 for guanine, n = 6 for thymidine), whereas 17 patients were heterozygous (GT). In the heterozygous patients, no selective loss of one allele was observed at relapse. Homozygosity for the MDR1 gene (GG or TT) was associated with shorter relapse-free intervals (P =.002) and poor survival rates (P =.02), compared with heterozygous patients. No difference was found in P-gp expression or function in patients with AML with either of the allelic variants of the MDR1 gene. It was concluded that P-gp function or expression is not upregulated at relapse/refractory disease and expression of one of the allelic variants is not associated with altered P-gp expression or function in AML, consistent with the fact that MDR1 gene-related clonal selection does not occur when AML evolves to recurrent disease. (Blood. 2001;97:3605-3611)

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

van den Heuvel-Eibrink, M.M, Wiemer, E.A.C, de Boevere, M.J, van der Holt, B, Vossebeld, P.J, Pieters, R, & Sonneveld, P. (2001). MDR1 gene-related clonal selection and P-glycoprotein function and expression in relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia. Blood. Retrieved from