MRP1 transporter correlates positively with glioma malignancy and the Multiple Drug Resistance (MDR) phenotype in Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM). Evidence shows that the MRP1 transporter is controlled by the adenosine signalling axis. The aim of this study was to identify the role of adenosine on the MDR phenotype in Glioblastoma Stem-like Cells (GSCs), the cell population responsible for the tumorigenic and chemoresistance capabilities of this tumour. We found that GSCs have increased intrinsic capacity to generate extracellular adenosine, thus controlling MRP1 transporter expression and activity via activation of the adenosine A3 receptor (A3AR). We showed PI3K/Akt and MEK/ERK1/2 signaling pathways downstream A3AR to control MRP1 in GSCs. In vitro pharmacological blockade of A3AR had a chemosensitizing effect, enhancing the actions of antitumour drugs and decreasing cell viability and proliferation of GSCs. In addition, we produced an in vivo xenograft model by subcutaneous inoculation of human GSCs in NOD/SCID-IL2Rg null mice. Pharmacological blockade of A3AR generated a chemosensitizing effect, enhancing the effectiveness of the MRP1 transporter substrate, vincristine, reducing tumour size and the levels of CD44 and Nestin stem cell markers as well as the Ki-67 proliferation indicator. In conclusion, we demonstrated the chemosensitizing effect of A3AR blockade on GSCs.
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