The effectiveness of many anticancer agents is dependent on their disposition to the intracellular space of cancerous tissue. Accumulation of anticancer drugs at their sites of action can be altered by both uptake and efflux transport proteins, however the majority of research on the disposition of anticancer drugs has focused on drug efflux transporters and their ability to confer multidrug resistance. Here we review the roles of uptake transporters of the SLC22A and SLCO families in the context of cancer therapy. The many first-line anticancer drugs that are substrates of organic cation transporters (OCTs) organic cation/carnitine transporters (OCTNs) and organic anion- transporting polypeptides (OATPs) are summarized. In addition, where data is available a comparison of the localization of drug uptake transporters in healthy and cancerous tissues is provided. Expression of drug uptake transporters increases the sensitivity of cancer cell lines to anticancer substrates. Furthermore, early observational studies have suggested a causal link between drug uptake transporter expression and positive outcome in some cancers. Quantification of drug transporters by mass spectrometry will provide an essential technique for generation of expression data during future observational clinical studies. Screening of drug uptake transporter expression in primary tumors may help differentiate between susceptible and resistant cancers prior to therapy.
Keywords: Anticancer drugs, drug uptake transporters, organic anion transporters, organic anion-transporting polypeptides, organic cation, organic cation/carnitine transporters, mutations, catecholamines, prostaglandin E2, dopamine
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