Cancers (Basel). 2021 Apr 2;13(7):1680. doi: 10.3390/cancers13071680.
The emergence of multidrug resistance (MDR) in the clinic is a significant problem for a successful treatment of human cancers. Overexpression of various ABC transporters (P-gp, BCRP and MRP's), which remove anticancer drugs in an ATP-dependent manner, is linked to the emergence of MDR. Attempts to modulate MDR have not been very successful in the clinic. Furthermore, no single agent has been found to significantly inhibit their functions to overcome clinical drug resistance. We have previously shown that nitric oxide (●NO) inhibits ATPase functions of ABC transporters, causing reversal of resistance to clinically active anticancer drugs. In this study, we have used cytotoxicity and molecular docking studies to show that NCX4040, a nitric oxide donor related to aspirin, inhibited the functions of ATPase which resulted in significant reversal of resistance to both adriamycin and topotecan in P-gp- and BCRP-expressing human cancer cell lines, respectively. We also used several other cytotoxic nitric oxide donors, e.g., molsidomine and S-nitroso glutathione; however, both P-gp- and BCRP-expressing cells were found to be highly resistant to these NO-donors. Molecular docking studies showed that NCX4040 binds to the nucleotide binding domains of the ATPase and interferes with further binding of ATP, resulting in decreased activities of these transporters. Our results are extremely promising and suggest that nitric oxide and other reactive species delivered to drug resistant tumor cells by well-designed nitric oxide donors could be useful in sensitizing anticancer drugs in multidrug resistant tumors expressing various ABC transporters.