Dual inhibition of PI3K and mTOR mitigates compensatory AKT activation and improves tamoxifen response in breast cancer

Xiaosong Chen, Meizhong Zhao, Mingang Hao, Xueqing Sun, Jinglong Wang, Yan Mao, Lidong Zu, Junjun Liu, Yandong Shen, Jianhua Wang, Kunwei Shen
Molecular Cancer Research: MCR 2013, 11 (10): 1269-78

UNLABELLED: Everolimus, an mTOR inhibitor, showed great clinical efficacy in combination with tamoxifen, letrozole, or exemestane for the treatment of estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer. However, its antitumor activity was shown to be compromised by a compensatory process involving AKT activation. Here, it was determined whether combining an additional PI3K inhibitor can reverse this phenomenon and improve treatment efficacy. In breast cancer cells (MCF-7 and BT474), everolimus inhibited the mTOR downstream activity by limiting phosphorylation of p70S6K and 4EBP1, which resulted in p-Ser473-AKT activation. However, addition of a LY294002, a PI3K inhibitor, to tamoxifen and everolimus treatment improved the antitumor effect compared with tamoxifen alone or the other two agents in combination. Moreover, LY294002 suppressed the activity of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR axis and mitigated the p-Ser473-AKT activation feedback loop in both cell lines. Critically, this combination scheme also significantly inhibited the expression of HIF-1a, an angiogenesis marker, under hypoxic conditions and reduced blood vessel sprout formation in vitro. Finally, it was shown that the three-agent cocktail had the greatest efficacy in inhibiting MCF-7 xenograft tumor growth and angiogenesis. Taken together, these results suggest that inhibition of PI3K and mTOR may further improve therapy in ER(+) breast cancer cells.

IMPLICATIONS: Combinatorial inhibition of the PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling axis may enhance endocrine-based therapy in breast cancer.

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