Up-regulation of carbonyl reductase 1 renders development of doxorubicin resistance in human gastrointestinal cancers

Toshiyuki Matsunaga, Chihiro Kezuka, Yoshifumi Morikawa, Ayaka Suzuki, Satoshi Endo, Kazuhiro Iguchi, Takeshi Miura, Toru Nishinaka, Tomoyuki Terada, Ossama El-Kabbani, Akira Hara, Akira Ikari

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Doxorubicin (DOX) is widely used for the treatment of a wide range of cancers such as breast and lung cancers, and malignant lymphomas, but is generally less efficacious in gastrointestinal cancers. The most accepted explanation for the DOX refractoriness is its resistance development. Here, we established DOX-resistant phenotypes of human gastric MKN45 and colon LoVo cells by continuous exposure to incremental concentrations of the drug. While the parental MKN45 and LoVo cells expressed carbonyl reductase 1 (CBR1) highly and moderately, respectively, the gain of DOX resistance further elevated the CBR1 expression. Additionally, the DOX-elicited cytotoxicity was lowered by overexpression of CBR1 and inversely strengthened by knockdown of the enzyme using small interfering RNA or pretreating with the specific inhibitor quercetin, which also reduced the DOX refractoriness of the two resistant cells. These suggest that CBR1 is a key enzyme responsible for the DOX resistance of gastrointestinal cancer cells and that its inhibitor is useful in the adjuvant therapy. Although CBR1 is known to metabolize DOX to a less toxic anticancer metabolite doxorubicinol, its overexpression in the parental cells hardly show significant reductase activity toward low concentration of DOX. In contrast, the overexpression of CBR1 increased the reductase activity toward an oxidative stress-derived cytotoxic aldehyde 4-oxo-2-nonenal. The sensitivity of the DOX-resistant cells to 4-oxo-2-nonenal was lower than that of the parental cells, and the resistance-elicited hyposensitivity was almost completely ameliorated by addition of the CBR1 inhibitor. Thus, CBR1 may promote development of DOX resistance through detoxification of cytotoxic aldehydes, rather than the drug's metabolism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1309-1319
Number of pages11
JournalBiological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Carbonyl reductase 1
  • Doxorubicin
  • Drug resistance
  • Gastrointestinal cancer cell
  • Quercetin

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