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Cancer Sci. 2008 Oct;99(10):1992-2003. doi: 10.1111/j.1349-7006.2008.00955.x.

mTOR inhibition reverses acquired endocrine therapy resistance of breast cancer cells at the cell proliferation and gene-expression levels.

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  • 1Universit√© de Lyon, Lyon, France.


Activation of the Akt/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway has been shown to be associated with resistance to endocrine therapy in estrogen receptor alpha (ERalpha)-positive breast cancer patients. Utmost importance is attached to strategies aimed at overcoming treatment resistance. In this context, this work aimed to investigate whether, in breast cancer cells, the use of an mTOR inhibitor would be sufficient to reverse the resistance acquired after exposure to endocrine therapy. The ERalpha-positive human breast adenocarcinoma derived-MCF-7 cells used in this study have acquired both cross-resistance to hydroxy-tamoxifen (OH-Tam) and to fulvestrant and strong activation of the Akt/mTOR pathway. Cell proliferation tests in control cells demonstrated that the mTOR inhibitor rapamycin enhanced cell sensitivity to endocrine therapy when combined to OH-Tam or to fulvestrant. In resistant cells, rapamycin used alone greatly inhibited cell proliferation and reversed resistance to endocrine therapy by blocking the agonist-like activity of OH-Tam on cell proliferation and bypassing fulvestrant resistance. Reversion of resistance by rapamycin was associated with increased ERalpha protein expression levels and modification of the balance of phospho-ser167 ERalpha/total ERalpha ratio. Pangenomic DNA array experiments demonstrated that the cotreatment of resistant cells with fulvestrant and rapamycin allowed the restoration of 40% of the fulvestrant gene-expression signature. Taken together, data presented herein strongly support the idea that mTOR inhibitor might be one of the promising therapeutic approaches for patients with ERalpha-positive endocrine therapy-resistant breast cancers.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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