Medical Oncology

, Volume 28, Supplement 1, pp 135–141 | Cite as

MCF-7/ADR cells (re-designated NCI/ADR-RES) are not derived from MCF-7 breast cancer cells: a loss for breast cancer multidrug-resistant research

  • Weifeng Ke
  • Pei Yu
  • Jianfeng Wang
  • Ruitao Wang
  • Chongyong Guo
  • Ling Zhou
  • Changchun Li
  • Ke Li
Original Paper


MCF-7/ADR cells have been widely used as a multidrug-resistant breast cancer cell model in cancer research. The origin of MCF-7/ADR has been a matter of debate since MCF-7/ADR cells were re-designated NCI/ADR-RES in 1998. Many recent studies still describe MCF-7/ADR cells as originating from the breast cancer cell line MCF-7. Thus, the real origin of MCF-7/ADR cells remains more unclear. In this study, a new adriamycin (ADR)-resistant cell line MCF-7/ADR′ was reproduced using the same procedure employed during the initial establishment of MCF-7/ADR. Since the MCF-7/ADR′ cell line was definitely derived from parental MCF-7 cells, we were able to directly compare these cell lines together with MCF-7/ADR using immunocytochemical, morphological, and consecutive DNA fingerprinting analyses to determine the true origin of MCF-7/ADR. Both ADR-resistant cell lines displayed some similar phenotypic characteristics, such as high levels of P-glycoprotein (P-gp) expression, increased vacuolation, abundant filamentous material, and irregular pseudopodia. With increasing concentrations of ADR, the DNA fingerprints of MCF-7/ADR′ cells were always identical to the parental MCF-7 cells. However, the DNA fingerprints of MCF-7/ADR cells did not relate to MCF-7 or MCF-7/ADR′. MCF-7/ADR and the breast cancer cell line MCF-7 are not of the same origin. Long-time culture in the presence of ADR does not cause significant changes in DNA fingerprint patterns.


MCF-7/ADR NCI/ADR-RES Breast cancer Misidentification DNA fingerprinting 









National cancer institute


Single-nucleotide polymorphism


Short tandem repeat


Phosphate-buffered saline



We thank Dr. Li-quan Hong (Second People’s Hospital of Hangzhou, The Affiliated Hospital of Hangzhou Normal University, Zhejiang) for his helpful advice. We also thank Dr. Quan Wang (First People’s Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiaotong University, Shanghai) for his technical support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Weifeng Ke
    • 1
  • Pei Yu
    • 1
  • Jianfeng Wang
    • 1
  • Ruitao Wang
    • 1
  • Chongyong Guo
    • 1
  • Ling Zhou
    • 1
  • Changchun Li
    • 1
  • Ke Li
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of General SurgeryFirst People’s Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiaotong UniversityShanghaiChina

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