The development of multi-drug resistant (MDR) cancer is a significant challenge in the clinical treatment of recurrent disease. Hypoxia is an environmental selection pressure that contributes to the development of MDR. Many cancer cells, including MDR cells, resort to glycolysis for energy acquisition. This study aimed to explore the relationship between hypoxia, glycolysis, and MDR in a panel of human breast and ovarian cancer cells. A second aim of this study was to develop an orthotopic animal model of MDR breast cancer.

Nucleic and basal protein was extracted from a panel of human breast and ovarian cancer cells; MDR cells and cells pre-exposed to either normoxic or hypoxic conditions. Western blotting was used to assess the expression of MDR markers, hypoxia inducible factors, and glycolytic proteins. Tumor xenografts were established in the mammary fat pad of nu/nu mice using human breast cancer cells that were pre-exposed to either hypoxic or normoxic conditions. Immunohistochemistry was used to assess the MDR character of excised tumors.

Hypoxia induces MDR and glycolysis in vitro, but the cellular response is cell-line specific and duration dependent. Using hypoxic, triple-negative breast cancer cells to establish 100 mm3 tumor xenografts in nude mice is a relevant model for MDR breast cancer.

Hypoxic pre-conditiong and xenografting may be used to develop a multitude of orthotopic models for MDR cancer aiding in the study and treatment of the disease.


Originally published in Cancer Cell International vol.11 no.3 (2011). doi: 10.1186/1475-2867-11-3

This study was supported by the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health through grants R01 CA-119617 and R01 CA-119617S1 (ARRA Supplement), and R21 CA-135594.


multi-drug resistance (MDR), hypoxia, glycolysis, cancer, mice, humans

Subject Categories

Drug resistance in cancer cells, Multidrug resistance, Breast - Cancer


Cancer Biology | Medical Cell Biology | Medical Pharmacology



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Copyright ©2011 Milane et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Rights Holder

Lara Milane, et al.

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