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Mol Cancer Ther. 2012 Aug;11(8):1758-69. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-12-0015. Epub 2012 Jul 30.

Targeting the PI3K/mTOR axis, alone and in combination with autophagy blockade, for the treatment of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors.

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Department of Surgical Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, USA.


There is a critical need for efficacious therapeutic strategies to improve the outcome of patients afflicted by malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNST). Multiple lines of evidence suggest a role for deregulated phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/mTOR signaling in MPNST, making this axis an attractive target for therapeutic manipulation. On the basis of previous observations obtained from in vitro experimentation, here we aimed to assess the effects of PI3K/mTOR blockade on MPNST growth in vivo. The anti-MPNST impact of XL765, a dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitor currently being evaluated in human cancer clinical trials, was tested in two human MPNST xenograft models (STS26T and MPNST724) and an experimental model of pulmonary metastasis (STS26T). XL765 abrogated human MPNST local and metastatic growth in severe combined immunodeficient mice. Notably, this therapeutic approach failed to induce apoptosis in MPNST cells but rather resulted in marked productive autophagy. Importantly, genetic and pharmacologic autophagy blockade reversed apoptotic resistance and resulted in significant PI3K/mTOR inhibition-induced MPNST cell death. The addition of the autophagy inhibitor, chloroquine, to the therapeutic regimen of MPNST xenografts after pretreatment with XL765 resulted in superior antitumor effects as compared with either agent alone. Together, preclinical studies described here expand our previous findings and suggest that PI3K/mTOR inhibition alone and (most importantly) in combination with autophagy blockade may comprise a novel and efficacious therapy for patients harboring MPNST.

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