Multidrug resistance (MDR) to anticancer drugs is a serious health problem that in many cases leads to cancer treatment failure. The ATP binding cassette (ABC) transporter P-glycoprotein (P-gp), which leads to premature efflux of drugs from cancer cells, is often responsible for MDR. On the other hand, a strategy to search for modulators from natural products to overcome MDR had been in place during the last decades. However, Nature limits the amount of some natural products, which has led to the development of synthetic strategies to increase their availability. This review summarizes the research findings on marine natural products and derivatives, mainly alkaloids, polyoxygenated sterols, polyketides, terpenoids, diketopiperazines, and peptides, with P-gp inhibitory activity highlighting the established structure-activity relationships. The synthetic pathways for the total synthesis of the most promising members and analogs are also presented. It is expected that the data gathered during the last decades concerning their synthesis and MDR-inhibiting activities will help medicinal chemists develop potential drug candidates using marine natural products as models which can deliver new ABC transporter inhibitor scaffolds.
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