[Significance of mTOR (mammalian target of rapamycin) activity in human lymphomas]

Ágnes Márk
Magyar Onkologia 2014, 58 (2): 143-8
Neoplastic processes, tumor growth, and tumor cell proliferation and survival are often due to the altered activation of different signaling pathways. The increased activity of PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling has been shown to be an important regulator of tumor growth in several solid tumors and in mantle cell lymphomas. The active form of mTOR kinase (mammalian target of rapamycin) is a key signaling molecule, and it exists in two different complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2. In the present work, mTOR activity was investigated in different lymphoma types, in parallel with clinical data. We also examined in Hodgkin lymphomas (HL) the role of mTOR activity in survival mechanisms such as antiapoptotic protein expression and alterations in the microenvironment. We determined which lymphoma types display characteristic high mTOR activity in our TMA (tissue microarray) study. We observed that mTOR activity is increased in mitotic lymphoid cells compared to interphasic cells. The number of diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and HL cases was extended in a further set of TMA. We observed significantly higher mTOR activity in the non-centrum germinativum derived subtype of DLBCL than in the centrum germinativum derived subtype, which was a prognostic marker; 63% of mTOR active cases showed Rictor overexpression, indicating mTORC2 activity. High mTOR activity was also established in 92% of HL cases, which was linked to mTORC1. This finding was not a prognostic marker, however, it can be useful in targeted therapy. We observed the overexpression of the antiapoptotic protein BCL-xL and NFκB-p50 in the majority of mTOR active HLs. HLs showed high numbers of regulatory T cells in the microenvironment and high expression of galectin-1 in tumor cells and in the extracellular matrix, when compared to reactive lymph nodes. We confirmed that mTOR inhibition had significant antiproliferative and antiapoptotic effects in lymphoma cell lines and in lymphoma xenografts (HL, DLBCL, Burkitt lymphoma). We also showed that rapamycin was able to augment the effect of chemotherapeutic agents and TGF-β. Taken together, mTOR activity may be a potential therapeutic target in different lymphoma types. However, patient and inhibitor selection criteria must be carefully considered. The combination of mTOR inhibitors with other agents will probably offer the highest efficiency for achieving the best clinical response, and may also allow dose reduction in order to decrease late treatment toxicity in these cases.

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