Multidrug resistance in acute leukemia: A conserved physiologic function

Alan F. List, Catherine M. Spier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Native resistance to conventional chemotherapy remains an important cause of treatment failure in the adult acute leukemias. Delineation of cellular mechanisms of drug resistance therefore represents a prerequisite to the development of more effective treatment strategies. The multidrug resistance (MDR) phenotype represents one such mechanism of resistance with direct clinical relevance. This phenotype occurs normally in certain mammalian tissues, and is detectable in tumor cell lines selected for resistance to naturally occurring antineoplastics. The mdr1 gene or its glycoprotein product, P-glycoprotein, is detected with high frequency in secondary acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and poor-risk subsets of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In prospective studies in AML, MDR overexpression is an independent determinant of response to treatment and overall survival with conventional-dose induction regimens. Investigations of mdr1 regulation in normal hematopoietic elements has shown a pattern which corresponds to its regulation in acute leukemia, explaining the linkage of mdr1 to specific cellular phenotypes. Therapeutic trials are now in progress to test the ability of various MDR-reversal agents to restore chemotherapy sensitivity in high-risk acute leukemias.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-14
Number of pages6
JournalLeukemia and Lymphoma
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1992


  • Acute leukemia
  • MDR
  • Multidrug resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hematology
  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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