Immune-stimulatory effects of rapamycin are mediated by stimulation of antitumor γδ T cells

Vinh Dao, Yang Liu, Srilakshmi Pandeswara, Robert S. Svatek, Jonathan A. Gelfond, Aijie Liu, Vincent Hurez, Tyler J. Curiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The FDA-approved mTOR inhibitor rapamycin mediates important immune effects, but its contributions to the anticancer effects of the drug are unclear. Here we report evidence that rapamycin-mediated cancer protection relies upon stimulation of γδ T cells. In a well-established mouse model of carcinogen and inflammation-driven skin carcinogenesis, IFNγ recruited γδ TCRmid T cells to the epidermis where rapamycin boosted their perforin-dependent antitumor properties. These antitumor cells were mostly Vγ5-Vγ4-Vγ1- in phenotype. IFNγ signals were required in both hematopoietic and nonhematopoietic cells for rapamycin to optimally promote epidermal infiltration of γδ TCRmid T cells, as mediated by CXCR3-CXCL10 interactions, along with the antitumor effects of these cells. In mouse xenograft models of human squamous cell carcinoma, rapamycin improved human gd T-cell-mediated cancer cell killing. Our results identify immune mechanisms for the cancer prevention and treatment properties of rapamycin, challenging the paradigm that mTOR inhibition acts primarily by direct action on tumor cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5970-5982
Number of pages13
JournalCancer Research
Issue number20
StatePublished - Oct 15 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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