Alteration of genomic responses to doxorubicin and prevention of MDR in breast cancer cells by a polymer excipient: Pluronic P85

Elena V. Batrakova, David L. Kelly, Shu Li, Yili Li, Zhihui Yang, Li Xiao, Daria Y. Alakhova, Simon Sherman, Valery Yu Alakhov, Alexander V. Kabanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


Polymer therapeutics has emerged as a new clinical option for the treatment of human diseases. However, little is known about pharmacogenetic responses to drugs formulated with polymers. In this study, we demonstrate that a formulation containing the block copolymer Pluronic P85 and antineoplastic drug doxorubicin (Dox) prevents the development of multidrug resistance in the human breast carcinoma cell line, MCF7. Specifically, MCF7 cells cultured in the presence of Pluronic were unable to stably grow in concentrations of Dox that exceeded 10 ng of Dox/mL of culture medium. In sharp contrast, MCF7 cells cultured in the absence of the block copolymer resulted in the selection and stable growth of cells that tolerated a 1000 times higher concentration of the drug (10 000 ng of Dox/mL of culture medium). Detailed characterization of the isolated sublines demonstrated that those cells selected in the polymer-drug formulation did not show amplification of the MDR1 gene, likely resulting in their high sensitivity to the drug. Conversely, cells selected with Dox alone showed an elevated level in the expression of the MDR1 gene along with a corresponding increase in the expression level of the drug efflux transporter, Pgp, and likely contributing to the high resistance of the cells to Dox. Global analysis of the expression profiles of 20K genes by DNA microarray revealed that the use of Pluronic in combination with Dox drastically changed the direction and magnitude of the genetic response of the tumor cells to Dox and may potentially enhance therapeutic outcomes. Overall, this study reinforces the need for a thorough assessment of pharmacogenomic effects of polymer therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)113-123
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Pharmaceutics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Multidrug resistance
  • P-glycoprotein
  • Pluronic
  • Poloxamer
  • Polymer genomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Drug Discovery


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