Newly synthesized 1,4-dihydropyridine derivatives (NK-compounds) were screened to determine whether they could overcome vincristine (VCR) resistance in VCR-resistant (P388/VCR) leukemia-bearing mice. Among the 57 NK-compounds examined, six compounds had strong reversing ability (Grade A), 18 partially overcame the resistance (Grade B), and 33 did not reverse the resistance (Grade C). The ability to overcome resistance varied considerably with the nature of substituents at positions 3,5 of the 1,4-dihydropyridine, and the most suitable substituents were the pyridylalkyl-including esters. Calcium antagonistic activity of NK-compounds having pyridylalkyl-including esters at positions 3,5 and dithiene ring at position 4 of the 1,4-dihydropyridine was greater than in those compounds having the dioxene ring at position 4. NK-242, which was assessed at Grade A and had no calcium antagonistic activity, improved therapeutic effects in both VCR-sensitive (P388/S) leukemia- and P388/VCR leukemia-bearing mice when combined with VCR. Fourteen NK-compounds were screened to determine whether they could inhibit photoaffinity labeling of the P-glycoprotein (Mr 170,000 glycoprotein) in a multidrug-resistant cell line by [3H]azidopine. All six compounds of Grade A and two of the three compounds of Grade B almost completely inhibited the labeling of Mr 170,000 glycoprotein at 1 to 10 µm. Thus there was a good correlation between the ability to reverse VCR resistance in vivo and the inhibition of photoaffinity labeling of Mr 170,000 glycoprotein.

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