A population of NG108-15 neuroblastoma cells resistant to doxorubicin (NG/DOXR) was established. The cells exhibited a multidrug resistance phenotype with cross-resistance to vinblastin and colchicine, overexpression of a 170 kDa membrane protein identified as P-glycoprotein and reversal of resistance by verapamil and quinine. Compared with NG108-15 cells, NG/DOXR cells showed an increase in Na+ current density and a decrease in cyclic-AMP-activated Cl- current density with no change in K+- and volume-sensitive Cl- current densities. As previously observed in NG108-15 cells, the vacuolar-type H+-ATPase inhibitors bafilomycin A1 and nitrate induced membrane depolarizations in NG/DOXR cells. The resting potentials of sensitive and resistant cells were not significantly different, but the depolarizations evoked by these agents were significantly larger in NG/DOXR than in NG108-15 cells. The resting membrane potential of NG/DOXR cells, but not that of NG108-15 cells, was depolarized by verapamil, and this effect was abolished by bafilomycin. The volume-sensitive Cl- currents of drug-sensitive and drug-resistant cells were inhibited by a decrease in intracellular pH from 7.3 to 6.8. Whereas bafilomycin prevents activation of Cl- currents in both drug-sensitive and drug-resistant cells, verapamil inhibited the Cl- current only in NG/DOXR cells. The results are discussed in terms of the roles of cytoplasmic pH and membrane potential in multidrug resistance.

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