Rapamycin is an effective inhibitor of human renal cancer metastasis.
Background: Human renal cell cancer (RCC) is common and is 10 to 100 times more frequent in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) and candidates for renal transplantation. Treatment of metastatic RCC is largely ineffective and is further undermined by immunosuppressive therapy in transplant recipients. A treatment regimen that prevents transplant rejection while constraining RCC progression would be of high value.
Methods: We developed a human RCC pulmonary metastasis model using human RCC 786-O as the tumor challenge and the severe combined immunodeficient (SCID) beige mouse as the host. We explored the effect of rapamycin, cyclosporine, or rapamycin plus cyclosporine on the development of pulmonary metastases and survival. The effects of the drugs on tumor cell growth, apoptosis, and expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A) and transforming growth factor beta1 (TGF-beta1) were also investigated.
Results: Rapamycin reduced, whereas cyclosporine increased, the number of pulmonary metastases. Rapamycin was effective in cyclosporine-treated mice, and rapamycin or rapamycin plus cyclosporine prolonged survival. Rapamycin growth arrested RCC 786-O at the G1 phase and reduced VEGF-A expression. Immunostaining of lung tissues for von Willebrand factor was minimal and circulating levels of VEGF-A and TGF-beta1 were lower in the rapamycin-treated mice compared to untreated or cyclosporine-treated mice.
Conclusion: Our findings support the idea that rapamycin may be of value for patients with RCC and that its antitumor efficacy is realized by cell cycle arrest and targeted reduction of VEGF-A and TGF-beta1. A regimen of rapamycin and cyclosporine, demonstrated to be effective in reducing acute rejection of renal allografts, may prevent RCC progression as well, and has the potential to prevent mortality due to RCC in patients with ESRD who have received renal allografts.