Toxicity and DNA binding of dextran-doxorubicin conjugates in multidrug-resistant KB-V1 cells: Optimization of dextran size

Wing Lam, Chung Hang Leung, Hing Leung Chan, David W F Fong*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


We previously showed that conjugating doxorubicin to very large 70-500 kDa dextran decreased its removal rate from P-glycoprotein (P-gp) over-expressing, multidrug-resistant KB-V1 cells. Furthermore these conjugates could act synergistically with other cancer drugs. In the drug-sensitive 3-1 clone, but not in the V1 subclone which was 300-fold more resistant to free doxorubicin, conjugation led to a size-related decrease in toxicity. Here we identified the optimal size of dextran for avoiding P-gp-mediated efflux and yet preserving as much as possible doxorubicin toxicity. Chemically reduced, intracellularly stable 3.4-10 kDa conjugates were prepared. Confocal microscopy and fluorescence quenching experiments showed that these conjugates entered nuclei and interacted with DNA. In 3-1 cells, but not in V1 cells, cytotoxicity of conjugates decreased 14- to 45-fold linearly related to log size of the carrier (r = 0.95). In V1 cells toxicity of the 10 kDa conjugate exceeded that of free doxorubicin. After conjugation the equilibrium binding constant of the DNA-drug complex (KA) decreased only by up to 3-fold. In 3-1 cells, but not in V1 cells, DNA binding kinetics was an important factor and toxicity could be linearly correlated to 1/K(A) of conjugate (r = 0.94). Drug accumulation decreased with an increase in dextran size but drug removal was decreased only in V1 cells. It appeared that drug uptake was also sensitive to dextran conjugation. In V1 cells drug removal was sensitive to the P-gp inhibitor verapamil or energy starvation. Ratios of V1/3-1 toxicity, drug accumulation and drug removal correlated linearly with log dextran size. When these ratios equaled 1, dextran sizes were estimated to be 32, 103 and 21 kDa, respectively. (C) 2000 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-384
Number of pages8
JournalAnti-Cancer Drugs
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2000

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Oncology
  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Cancer Research

User-Defined Keywords

  • Dextran conjugates
  • DNA binding
  • Doxorubicin
  • Multidrug resistance


Dive into the research topics of 'Toxicity and DNA binding of dextran-doxorubicin conjugates in multidrug-resistant KB-V1 cells: Optimization of dextran size'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this