Medicinal use of natural products such as extracts of plants has existed for many years in China and in other countries and they are now available worldwide. Citrus fruit juices are consumed on a daily basis around the world. Modern medicine provides well-tested compounds or drugs for most sicknesses. However, the simultaneous consumption of plant extracts, food supplements, and fruit juices with drugs can create metabolic aberrations in humans. Interactions between drugs used simultaneously are regulated by government agencies. Not regulated, but warned against in drug inserts are potential interactions between drugs and food and food-additives containing certain compounds with potential side effects. Summarized here are the results of investigations that point out possible interactions at the level of transporter molecules by drugs and compounds of natural origin. These transporter molecules play important roles in absorption in the intestines, at the blood brain barrier, in the liver, the kidney and in some other parts of the human body. Drugs and metabolites pass through these pumps and may compete with compounds from food supplements. The most studied natural compounds that are potential modulators of these transport molecules are flavonoids, found in fruit juices, vegetables, flowers and tea. Mycotoxins found in cereal grains are also shown to modulate transporter proteins. We detail here how such constituents of natural origin were shown to modulate three types of the major transporter molecules, P-glycoprotein (ABCB1), multidrug resistance proteins (ABCCs) and breast cancer resistance protein (ABCG2). Interference of these natural compounds with drugs at the transporter level is also discussed.
Keywords: P-glycoprotein, multidrug resistance protein, breast cancer resistance protein, flavonoids, mycotoxins, food-drug interactions
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