The K562/VCR cell line, exhibiting acquired multidrug resistance (MDR) with increased expression of a cell surface glycoprotein (P-glycoprotein), was isolated from human erythroleukemia K562 cells. Various compounds that induced erythroid differentiation of K562 cells were tested for their effects on growth and differentiation of these K562/VCR cells. Sodium butyrate, hemin, 1-β-d-arabinofuranosylcytosine, and erythroid differentiation factor (EDF) induced erythroid differentiation of K562/VCR cells as well as K562 cells. The MDR of K562/VCR cells was partly overcome by treatment with EDF but not with the other inducers. Expression of P-glycoprotein by K562/VCR cells was measured by radioimmunoassay using MRK16 monoclonal antibody. Results showed that EDF caused down-regulation of P-glycoprotein in K562/VCR cells, whereas the other inducers did not cause its down-regulation. Thus, in addition to inducing erythroid differentiation, EDF enhanced the sensitivity of K562/VCR cells to multidrugs and suppressed expression of P-glycoprotein. These results suggest that differentiation inducers may be useful in chemotherapy of leukemic MDR cells.


Supported in part by a grant for cancer research from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture and a grant from the Ministry of Health and Welfare for a Comprehensive 10-Year Strategy for Cancer Control, Japan.

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