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Nephrol Dial Transplant. 2007 May;22 Suppl 1:i11-6. Epub 2007 Mar 14.

The role of proliferation signal inhibitors in post-transplant malignancies.

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  • 1Department of Nephrology, Hospital Clínic, University of Barcelona, 08036 Barcelona, Spain.


The proliferation signal inhibitors [PSIs; mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors] are widely used for immunosuppression in transplant recipients. Alongside their immunosuppressive properties, PSIs also have substantial anti-neoplastic activity, as a result of their inhibition of cellular signalling pathways involved in critical functions such as cell division, T-cell activation, invasion and growth factor production. In vitro and in vivo studies have shown that PSIs can prevent the growth of experimentally transformed cells and tumour-derived cell lines, and can also increase the sensitivity of cells to apoptosis-inducing agents. The mechanisms of anti-tumour activities of PSIs identified in pre-clinical studies include up-regulation of adhesion molecules with reversion to less invasive phenotypes, and inhibition of angiogenesis resulting from both decreased vascular endothelial growth factor production and decreased endothelial sensitivity to such growth factors. In clinical trials of PSIs in transplant recipients, results show that the incidence of malignancies is substantially lower in patients receiving PSIs than in those receiving calcineurin inhibitor (CNI)-based immunosuppression, with significantly longer times to the development of malignancy. This protective effect of the PSIs is also present in patients receiving combination therapy with a CNI and a PSI. There is also evidence to suggest a role for PSIs in the management of post-transplantation malignancy, with reports of complete resolution of primary and metastatic tumours after conversion from a CNI to a PSI. These beneficial effects have led to the investigation of everolimus and an analogue of sirolimus as a treatment for patients with advanced solid tumours.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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