AKT pathway in neuroblastoma and its therapeutic implication

Expert Rev Anticancer Ther. 2008 May;8(5):757-69. doi: 10.1586/14737140.8.5.757.


Neuroblastoma is a frequent pediatric tumor with a poor outcome in spite of aggressive treatment, even with autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The overall cure rate of 40% is unsatisfactory and new therapeutic strategies are urgently needed. AKT is a major mediator of survival signals that protect cells from apoptosis and regulate cell proliferation. The AKT signaling network is considered a key determinant of the biological aggressiveness of these tumors. In this article, the authors discuss the relation between activators of AKT in neuroblastoma, in particular, growth factors such as IGF-1, TRK, GDNF, VEGF and EGF, and their effects on tumoral proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. Numerous other proteins interact with AKT in neuroblastoma. Several are relatively well characterized, such as PTEN and retinoic acid; others are new and potentially interesting, such as PKC and anaplastic lymphoma kinase. Specific inhibition of AKT has been studied, such as with LY249002, with significant effects on cell progression and apoptosis in tumoral cells. Moreover, a series of new drugs, such as geldanamycin and rapamycin, directly modify the expression of AKT in tumoral cells. Few specific inhibitors of AKT are available; less specific inhibitors are probably unsuitable therapeutic options in neuroblastoma. Drugs with a direct or indirect inhibitory effect on the AKT pathway, used alone or in combination with other drugs, seem to hold great promise as a new therapeutic modality in neuroblastoma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Humans
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins / physiology
  • Neuroblastoma / drug therapy
  • Neuroblastoma / enzymology*
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / physiology
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt