MDR in cancer: Addressing the underlying cellular alterations with the use of nanocarriers

Manu S. Singh, Salma N. Tammam, Maryam A. Shetab Boushehri, Alf Lamprecht*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Multidrug resistance (MDR) is associated with a wide range of pathological changes at different cellular and intracellular levels. Nanoparticles (NPs) have been extensively exploited as the carriers of MDR reversing payloads to resistant tumor cells. However, when properly formulated in terms of chemical composition and physicochemical properties, NPs can serve as beyond delivery systems and help overcome MDR even without carrying a load of chemosensitizers or MDR reversing molecular cargos. Whether serving as drug carriers or beyond, a wise design of the nanoparticulate systems to overcome the cellular and intracellular alterations underlying the resistance is imperative. Within the current review, we will initially discuss the cellular changes occurring in resistant cells and how such changes lead to chemotherapy failure and cancer cell survival. We will then focus on different mechanisms through which nanosystems with appropriate chemical composition and physicochemical properties can serve as MDR reversing units at different cellular and intracellular levels according to the changes that underlie the resistance. Finally, we will conclude by discussing logical grounds for a wise and rational design of MDR reversing nanoparticulate systems to improve the cancer therapeutic approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-30
Number of pages29
JournalPharmacological Research
StatePublished - Dec 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Multidrug resistance (MDR)
  • Nanoparticles (NP)


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