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J Immunother. 2009 Jul-Aug;32(6):585-92. doi: 10.1097/CJI.0b013e3181a8efe6.

Honokiol-mediated inhibition of PI3K/mTOR pathway: a potential strategy to overcome immunoresistance in glioma, breast, and prostate carcinoma without impacting T cell function.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Inhibition of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) pathway is an appealing method for decreasing the immunoresistance and augmenting T cell-mediated immunotherapy. A major impediment to this strategy is the impact of conventional PI3K/mTOR pathway inhibitors on T cell function. In particular, rapamycin, is a well-known immunosuppressant that can decrease the activity of the PI3K/mTOR pathway in tumor cells, but also has a profound inhibitory effect on T cells. Here we show that Honokiol, a natural dietary product isolated from an extract of seed cones from Magnolia grandiflora, can decrease PI3K/mTOR pathway-mediated immunoresistance of glioma, breast and prostate cancer cell lines, without affecting critical proinflammatory T cell functions. Specifically, we show that at doses sufficient to down-regulate levels of phospho-S6 and the negative immune regulator B7-H1 in tumor cells, Honokiol does not significantly impair T cell proliferation or proinflammatory cytokine production. In contrast to classic inhibitors, including LY294002, wortmannin, AKT inhibitor III and rapamycin, Honokiol specifically decreases the PI3K/mTOR pathway activity in tumor cells, but not in freshly stimulated T cells. Collectively, our data define a unique application for Honokiol and provide the impetus to more fully elucidate the mechanism by which T cells are resistant to the effects of this particular inhibitor. Honokiol is clinically available for human testing and may serve to augment T cell-mediated cancer immunotherapy.

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