Inhibition of mTOR pathway by everolimus cooperates with EGFR inhibitors in human tumours sensitive and resistant to anti-EGFR drugs

Br J Cancer. 2008 Mar 11;98(5):923-30. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604269. Epub 2008 Mar 4.


Inhibition of a single transduction pathway is often inefficient due to activation of alternative signalling. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a key intracellular kinase integrating proliferation, survival and angiogenic pathways and has been implicated in the resistance to EGFR inhibitors. Thus, mTOR blockade is pursued to interfere at multiple levels with tumour growth. We used everolimus (RAD001) to inhibit mTOR, alone or in combination with anti-EGFR drugs gefitinib or cetuximab, on human cancer cell lines sensitive and resistant to EGFR inhibitors, both in vitro and in vivo. We demonstrated that everolimus is active against EGFR-resistant cancer cell lines and partially restores the ability of EGFR inhibitors to inhibit growth and survival. Everolimus reduces the expression of EGFR-related signalling effectors and VEGF production, inhibiting proliferation and capillary tube formation of endothelial cells, both alone and in combination with gefitinib. Finally, combination of everolimus and gefitinib inhibits growth of GEO and GEO-GR (gefitinib resistant) colon cancer xenografts, activation of signalling proteins and VEGF secretion. Targeting mTOR pathway with everolimus overcomes resistance to EGFR inhibitors and produces a cooperative effect with EGFR inhibitors, providing a valid therapeutic strategy to be tested in a clinical setting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / pharmacology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cetuximab
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • ErbB Receptors / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Everolimus
  • Gefitinib
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / drug effects
  • Protein Kinases / drug effects*
  • Quinazolines / pharmacology
  • Sirolimus / analogs & derivatives*
  • Sirolimus / pharmacology
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Transplantation, Heterologous


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Quinazolines
  • Everolimus
  • Protein Kinases
  • MTOR protein, human
  • mTOR protein, mouse
  • ErbB Receptors
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Cetuximab
  • Gefitinib
  • Sirolimus