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Raltegravir does not revert efflux activity of MDR1-P-glycoprotein in human MDR cells

Maria Luisa Dupuis, Alessandro Ascione, Lucia Palmisano, Stefano Vella and Maurizio Cianfriglia*

Author Affiliations

Department of Therapeutic Research and Medicines Evaluation, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena 299, Rome, Italy

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BMC Pharmacology and Toxicology 2013, 14:47  doi:10.1186/2050-6511-14-47

Published: 20 September 2013



Raltegravir (Isentress®)(RALT) has demonstrated excellent efficacy in both treatment-experienced and naïve patients with HIV-1 infection, and is the first strand transfer integrase inhibitor to be approved for use in HIV infected adults worldwide. Since the in vivo efficacy of this class of antiviral drugs depends on their access to intracellular sites where HIV-1 replicates, we analyzed the biological effects induced by RALT on human MDR cell systems expressing multidrug transporter MDR1-P-glycoprotein (MDR1-Pgp).


Our study about RALT was performed by using a set of consolidated methodologies suitable for evaluating the MDR1-Pgp substrate nature of chemical and biological agents, namely: i) assay of drug efflux function; ii) analysis of MDR reversing capability by using cell proliferation assays; iii) monoclonal antibody UIC2 (mAb) shift test, as a sensitive assay to analyze conformational transition associated with MDR1-Pgp function; and iv) induction of MDR1-Pgp expression in MDR cell variant subjected to RALT exposure.


Functional assays demonstrated that the presence of RALT does not remarkably interfere with the efflux mechanism of CEM-VBL100 and HL60 MDR cells. Accordingly, cell proliferation assays clearly indicated that RALT does not revert MDR phenotype in human MDR1-Pgp expressing cells. Furthermore, exposure of CEM-VBL10 cells to RALT does not induce MDR1-Pgp functional conformation intercepted by monoclonal antibody (mAb) UIC2 binding; nor does exposure to RALT increase the expression of this drug transporter in MDR1-Pgp expressing cells.


No evidence of RALT interaction with human MDR1-Pgp was observed in the in vitro MDR cell systems used in the present investigation, this incorporating all sets of studies recommended by the FDA guidelines. Taken in aggregate, these data suggest that RALT may express its curative potential in all sites were HIV-1 penetrates, including the MDR1-Pgp protected blood/tissue barrier. Moreover RALT, evading MDR1-Pgp drug efflux function, would not interfere with pharmacokinetic profiles of co-administered MDR1-Pgp substrate antiretroviral drugs.

Raltegravir; MDR1-Pgp; Drug substrate; MDR1-Pgp induction; Antiretroviral treatment