Prevention of carcinogen and inflammation-induced dermal cancer by oral rapamycin includes reducing genetic damage

Vinh Dao, Srilakshmi Pandeswara, Yang Liu, Vincent Hurez, Sherry Dodds, Danielle Callaway, Aijie Liu, Paul Hasty, Zelton D. Sharp, Tyler J. Curiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Cancer prevention is a cost-effective alternative to treatment. In mice, the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin prevents distinct spontaneous, noninflammatory cancers, making it a candidate broad-spectrum cancer prevention agent. We now show that oral microencapsulated rapamycin (eRapa) prevents skin cancer in dimethylbenz(a)anthracene (DMBA)/12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) carcinogen-induced, inflammation-driven carcinogenesis. eRapa given before DMBA/TPA exposure significantly increased tumor latency, reduced papilloma prevalence and numbers, and completely inhibited malignant degeneration into squamous cell carcinoma. Rapamycin is primarily an mTORC1-specific inhibitor, but eRapa did not reduce mTORC1 signaling in skin or papillomas, and did not reduce important proinflammatory factors in this model, including p-Stat3, IL17A, IL23, IL12, IL1β, IL6, or TNFα. In support of lack of mTORC1 inhibition, eRapa did not reduce numbers or proliferation of CD45-CD34+CD49fmid skin cancer initiating stem cells in vivo and marginally reduced epidermal hyperplasia. Interestingly, eRapa reduced DMBA/TPA-induced skin DNA damage and the hras codon 61 mutation that specifically drives carcinogenesis in this model, suggesting reduction of DNA damage as a cancer prevention mechanism. In support, cancer prevention and DNA damage reduction effects were lost when eRapa was given after DMBA-induced DNA damage in vivo. eRapa afforded picomolar concentrations of rapamycin in skin of DMBA/TPA-exposed mice, concentrations that also reduced DMBA-induced DNA damage in mouse and human fibroblasts in vitro. Thus, we have identified DNA damage reduction as a novel mechanism by which rapamycin can prevent cancer, which could lay the foundation for its use as a cancer prevention agent in selected human populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)400-409
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Prevention Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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