Biphasic rapamycin effects in lymphoma and carcinoma treatment

Yang Liu, Srilakshmi Pandeswara, Vinh Dao, Álvaro Padrón, Justin M. Drerup, Shunhua Lao, Aijie Liu, Vincent Hurez, Tyler J. Curiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


mTOR drives tumor growth but also supports T-cell function, rendering the applications of mTOR inhibitors complex especially in T-cell malignancies. Here, we studied the effects of the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin in mouse EL4 T-cell lymphoma. Typical pharmacologic rapamycin (1-8 mg/kg) significantly reduced tumor burden via direct suppression of tumor cell proliferation and improved survival in EL4 challenge independent of antitumor immunity. Denileukin diftitox (DD)-mediated depletion of regulatory T cells significantly slowed EL4 growth in vivo in a T-cell-dependent fashion. However, typical rapamycin inhibited T-cell activation and tumor infiltration in vivo and failed to boost DD treatment effects. Low-dose (LD) rapamycin (75 μg/kg) increased potentially beneficial CD44hiCD62L+ CD8+ central memory T cells in EL4 challenge, but without clinical benefit. LD rapamycin significantly enhanced DD treatment efficacy, but DD plus LD rapamycin treatment effects were independent of antitumor immunity. Instead, rapamycin upregulated EL4 IL2 receptor in vitro and in vivo, facilitating direct DD tumor cell killing. LD rapamycin augmented DD efficacy against B16 melanoma and a human B-cell lymphoma, but not against human Jurkat T-cell lymphoma or ID8agg ovarian cancer cells. Treatment effects correlated with IL2R expression, but mechanisms in some tumors were not fully defined. Overall, our data define a distinct, biphasic mechanisms of action of mTOR inhibition at doses that are clinically exploitable, including in T-cell lymphomas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)520-531
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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