Expression of P-glycoprotein has been linked to multidrug resistance in cancer cell lines and human tumors. We investigated the frequency and clinical significance of P-glycoprotein immunoreactivity in 57 previously untreated diffuse large cell and immunoblastic lymphomas. Banked frozen tissue, which had been obtained prior to chemotherapy, was tested for reactivity with 2 monoclonal antibodies (MRK16 and C219) that recognize different domains of P-glycoprotein, using an immunoperoxidase technique. Thirteen of 57 lymphomas (23%) showed strong staining of >50% of neoplastic cells; 15 of 57 (26%) showed labeling of a minority (11–50%) of neoplastic lymphocytes; 14 of 57 (25%) yielded equivocal results (reactivity in <10% of cells); and 15 of 57 (26%) were negative for P-glycoprotein. The 2 monoclonal antibodies were comparable in reactivity. Expression of MDR-1 mRNA was determined in 6 cases with sufficient available tissue, and did not correlate well with the percentages of cells reactive for P-glycoprotein by immunohistochemistry. Thirty-nine of our 57 patients completed multiagent chemotherapy. Contrary to our expectations, we found that P-glycoprotein immunoreactivity did not decrease the likelihood of response to induction chemotherapy. Median survival also was not adversely affected.


Supported in part by funds from the Department of Veterans Affairs Merit Review and from the Coleman Leukemia Research Fund.

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