Molecular mechanisms of cisplatin resistance
Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
Platinum-based drugs, and in particular cis-diamminedichloroplatinum(II) (best known as cisplatin), are employed for the treatment of a wide array of solid malignancies, including testicular, ovarian, head and neck, colorectal, bladder and lung cancers. Cisplatin exerts anticancer effects via multiple mechanisms, yet its most prominent (and best understood) mode of action involves the generation of DNA lesions followed by the activation of the DNA damage response and the induction of mitochondrial apoptosis. Despite a consistent rate of initial responses, cisplatin treatment often results in the development of chemoresistance, leading to therapeutic failure. An intense research has been conducted during the past 30 years and several mechanisms that account for the cisplatin-resistant phenotype of tumor cells have been described. Here, we provide a systematic discussion of these mechanism by classifying them in alterations (1) that involve steps preceding the binding of cisplatin to DNA (pre-target resistance), (2) that directly relate to DNA-cisplatin adducts (on-target resistance), (3) concerning the lethal signaling pathway(s) elicited by cisplatin-mediated DNA damage (post-target resistance) and (4) affecting molecular circuitries that do not present obvious links with cisplatin-elicited signals (off-target resistance). As in some clinical settings cisplatin constitutes the major therapeutic option, the development of chemosensitization strategies constitute a goal with important clinical implications.