Cytotoxicity and reversal effect of sertraline, fluoxetine, and citalopram on MRP1- and MRP7-mediated MDR

Yuval Bin Kanner, Qiu Xu Teng, Assaf Ganoth, Dan Peer, Jing Quan Wang, Zhe Sheng Chen*, Yossi Tsfadia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide, and the development of resistance to chemotherapy drugs is a major challenge in treating malignancies. In recent years, researchers have focused on understanding the mechanisms of multidrug resistance (MDR) in cancer cells and have identified the overexpression of ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters, including ABCC1/MRP1 and ABCC10/MRP7, as a key factor in the development of MDR. In this study, we aimed to investigate whether three drugs (sertraline, fluoxetine, and citalopram) from the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) family, commonly used as antidepressants, could be repurposed as inhibitors of MRP1 and MRP7 transporters and reverse MDR in cancer cells. Using a combination of in silico predictions and in vitro validations, we analyzed the interaction of MRP1 and MRP7 with the drugs and evaluated their ability to hinder cell resistance. We used computational tools to identify and analyze the binding site of these three molecules and determine their binding energy. Subsequently, we conducted experimental assays to assess cell viability when treated with various standard chemotherapies, both with and without the presence of SSRI inhibitors. Our results show that all three SSRI drugs exhibited inhibitory/reversal effects in the presence of chemotherapies on both MRP1-overexpressed cells and MRP7-overexpressed cells, suggesting that these medications have the potential to be repurposed to target MDR in cancer cells. These findings may open the door to using FDA-approved medications in combination therapy protocols to treat highly resistant malignancies and improve the efficacy of chemotherapy treatment. Our research highlights the importance of investigating and repurposing existing drugs to overcome MDR in cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1290255
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
StatePublished - 2023


  • ABC transporters
  • ABCC1/MRP1
  • ABCC10/MRP7
  • SSRI family
  • cancer
  • drug resistance


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