BACKGROUND: To investigate the mechanisms of multidrug resistance of brain tumors, to identify the site of cellular expression of P-gp in human brains in situ and to morphologically determine whether an association may exist between P-gp and caveolin-1.
METHODS: Immunohistochemistry was used to detect the expression and location of P-glycoprotein (P-gp), multidrug resistance-associated protein (MDR), lung resistance-related protein (LRP), topoisomerase II (Topo II) and glutathione-S-π (GST-π) in 30 patient tumor tissues and 5 normal brain tissues. The sections were subjected to double labeling for P-gp (TRITC labeled) and caveolin-1 (FITC labeled). The location and characteristics of expression of the two proteins in the blood brain barrier(BBB) was observed using a laser scanning microscope.
RESULTS: High expression of P-gp was detected in vessel walls and the tissue surrounding the vessels. However, expression of P-gp was low in tumor cells. The expression of the other 4 multidrug resistance proteins was not observed in the vessel walls. Laser scanning microscopy showed P-gp and caveolin-1 co-expression: the two proteins co-localized either in the luminal endothelial compartment or at the border of the luminal/abluminal compartments.
CONCLUSION: Chemotherapeutics drugs are interrupted in the end-feet of neuroepithelial cells of the BBB by P-gp, which weakens the chemotherapeutic effect. P-gp marks the BBB, and the transporter is localized in the luminal endothelial compartment where it co-localizes with caveolin-1.
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