Cisplatin and beyond: molecular mechanisms of action and drug resistance development in cancer chemotherapy
Platinum-based anticancer drugs are widely used in the chemotherapy of human neoplasms. The major obstacle for the clinical use of this class of drugs is the development of resistance and toxicity. It is therefore very important to understand the chemical properties, transport and metabolic pathways and mechanism of actions of these compounds. There is a large body of evidence that therapeutic and toxic effects of platinum drugs on cells are not only a consequence of covalent adducts formation between platinum complexes and DNA but also with RNA and many proteins. These processes determine molecular mechanisms that underlie resistance to platinum drugs as well as their toxicity. Increased expression levels of various transporters and increased repair of platinum-DNA adducts are both considered as the most significant processes in the development of drug resistance. Functional genomics has an increasing role in predicting patients’ responses to platinum drugs. Genetic polymorphisms affecting these processes may play an important role and constitute the basis for individualized approach to cancer therapy. Similar processes may also influence therapeutic potential of nonplatinum metal compounds with anticancer activity. As cisplatin is the most frequently used platinum based chemotherapeutic agent, the present review summarizes data on its chemistry and molecular mechanisms underlying its toxicity and resistance. A brief summary of other metal based cytotoxic compounds is included at the end of the review.